UMWA wins mine pre-shift inspection decision in U.S. Circuit Court


JUNE 12, 2019

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday sided with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and the United Steelworkers international union (USW) in a suit the two unions brought to vacate a 2018 Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) amendment to a 2017 rule that that allowed for safety examinations of metal/nonmetal mines to occur while miners were in the mine and working. The 2017 rule, which is now in effect again as a result of the Court’s ruling, requires such examinations to take place before miners began their shift.

The UMWA and USW argued that allowing mine operators to do the examination while miners were working put them at risk because dangerous conditions could exist that threaten miners’ health and safety. The Court agreed, saying, “because the 2018 Amendment allows miners to work in an area before the examination is completed, there is the likelihood that miners may be exposed to an adverse condition before it is discovered.”

“This is a victory for miners everywhere,” said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. “Metal and nonmetal miners can now be more confident that their workplace is as safe as it can be before their shift starts, instead of learning about a safety hazard after they are already in the mine.

“All miners, whether working in a metal/nonmetal mine or a coal mine, should celebrate this ruling because it prevents MSHA from rolling back critical safety and health standards,” Roberts said. “If the agency had been allowed to get away with this, there is no question that we would soon be looking at a host of other attempts to reduce safety standards in every mine in America.”

The case before the D.C. Circuit is #18-1116.