UMWA Statement on Trapped Mexican Miners

[TRIANGLE, VA.] With rescue efforts ongoing to reach ten miners trapped underground by water near Sabinas, Coahuila, Mexico, United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“The prayers of the entire UMWA are with the trapped miners and the efforts of the rescuers struggling to reach them. While the details of what caused this emergency remain unclear, it serves as a reminder that danger is always mere seconds away in a mine and constant vigilance on safety issues is job number one. The most precious thing to come out of a mine is always the miner.

“The UMWA stands ready to provide any assistance that may be needed to help locate and bring these miners safely to the surface.”

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NLRB demand for UMWA to pay Warrior Met Coal strike costs “outrageous,” threatens American workers’ right to strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 3, 2022

[TRIANGLE, VA.] The United Mine Workers of America today made it clear that it will vigorously challenge an outrageous assessment of damages made by the National Labor Relations Board Region 10 regarding the UMWA’s 16-month strike against Warrior Met Coal in Alabama.

“This is a slap in the face not just to the workers who are fighting for better jobs at Warrior Met Coal, but to every worker who stands up to their boss anywhere in America,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “There are charges for security, cameras, capital expenditures, buses for transporting scabs across picket lines, and the cost of lost production.

“What is the purpose of a strike if not to impact the operations of the employer, including production,” Roberts asked. “Is it now the policy of the federal government that unions be required to pay a company’s losses as a consequence of their members exercising their rights as working people? This is outrageous and effectively negates workers’ right to strike. It cannot stand.”

The union entered into a settlement agreement in June with NLRB Region 10 regarding charges the company had made about picket line activity in order to save striking members and families from days of hostile questioning by company lawyers. On July 22, the NLRB sent the union a detailed list of damages totaling $13.3 million dollars, more than 33 times the estimated amount NLRB lawyers had initially indicated would be assessed.

Warrior Met has reported millions of dollars in costs it has incurred over the course of the strike. “It appears that Warrior Met wants us to reimburse it for those costs, including costs it incurred before the strike even began,” Roberts said. “What’s extremely troubling here is that the NLRB appears to have taken up the company’s cause without a second thought.

“I want to be clear: Warrior Met Coal instigated this strike and has brutally extended it through its sustained unwillingness to reach a fair and reasonable agreement at the bargaining table,” Roberts said. “We have no intention of paying its costs for doing so. The right to strike in America must be preserved. We will fight this at every level, in every court. We will spend every penny of our resources rather than give in to something like this from the NLRB, Warrior Met or any other entity.”

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Time for some truth about the Inflation Adjustment Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 2, 2022

[CHARLESTON, W.VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“I have been around Washington, D.C. for more than 40 years in the service of the UMWA’s members, which means I have heard a lot of whoppers come out of the mouths of politicians. But few of them top the absolute bull some are peddling about impact of the Inflation Adjustment Act (IRA), introduced last week by Senator Joe Manchin.

“It was shocking to read a member of Congress from West Virginia, Rep. Alex Mooney, attack the restoration of full funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which is included in the IRA. The Fund provides small benefits to some, but not nearly enough, victims of this insidious disease and their widows, thousands of whom are West Virginians.

“Rep. Mooney has been in Congress long enough to know that the rates coal companies will pay under the IRA are exactly what they had been paying since the 1980’s, until the beginning of this year. This isn’t a tax increase – the coal companies have been enjoying a tax windfall for the last seven months and American taxpayers are picking up their tab.

“Let’s be clear: Black Lung is caused by breathing too much coal and silica dust, which only happens when coal operators do not follow the law with respect to how much dust is in the atmosphere of a mine. Scofflaw coal companies are the culprits, and asking them to pay fifty cents more per ton of coal that is used domestically is only right, especially at a time when they are selling their coal for unprecedented high prices.

“I must also say that ensuring corporations with more than a billion dollars in revenue pay their fair share of taxes is a no-brainer for working families. Many companies already do, but those who do not are simply gaming loopholes in the tax system for their own benefit – and once again, ordinary American taxpayers are picking up their tab, too.

“Those who are attacking this legislation also overlook some pretty obvious benefits of this bill to West Virginia coal miners, like the billions in tax credits for the application of Carbon Capture and Storage technology, which would allow coal-fired power plants to extend their lives for decades. This is one of the first times Congress can actually take steps to support the coal industry, which few ever expected.

“And the $4 billion in tax credits in this bill that provides incentives for manufacturers to build plants in the coalfields will provide good jobs to thousands of coal miners who have already lost their jobs and revitalize communities across West Virginia and Appalachia. It can mean immediate benefits to companies the UMWA is partnering with to provide hundreds if not thousands of jobs to dislocated miners and other West Virginia workers.

“I cannot understand how any politician who actually cares about working West Virginians and the quality of their lives can trash this bill. They should be thanking Senator Manchin, not attacking him. But when blinded by ideology and ambition, some will say and do anything – even when they know they are not being straight with the people.”

UMWA applauds Inflation Reduction Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 28, 2022

 

UMWA applauds Inflation Reduction Act

[TRIANGLE, VA.] Commenting on provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that would provide full and permanent funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and other provisions that will provide much needed help to distressed coalfield communities, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“We are very pleased that Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) were able to come to an agreement on legislation that includes full and permanent funding of the excise tax that funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. This will give victims of this insidious disease, their families and their survivors some peace of mind that the benefits they so desperately need will never be reduced.

“Senator Manchin never wavered in his commitment to secure the funding for this program, and he delivered. Thousands in the coalfields owe him yet another debt of gratitude, and the UMWA will never forget his dedication to getting this done.

“There is more to do regarding Black Lung, starting with the promulgation of a final rule to limit silica dust exposure in coal mines. We also must examine the entire Black Lung benefits system to make it more inclusive for victims, more efficient in the awarding of benefits, and to ensure its long-term viability in the face of a declining coal industry. The UMWA stands ready to meet with all stakeholders – victims and their families, labor, and industry – to work on solutions to these issues.

“We are also pleased to see that provisions were included in the IRA that will extend tax credits to renewable energy supply chain manufacturers that build plants in the coalfields, which will be a big step toward providing good jobs to these distressed communities. The enhanced tax credits for carbon capture and storage included in the legislation will also be a boon for coalfield jobs. We urge swift passage of this legislation by Congress.”

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The UMWA Honors Woody Williams

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 30, 2022

[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today, regarding the passing of World War II hero Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams:

“Woody Williams was a hero for a lot of us, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner in World War II. While earning that award alone justifies the “Hero” title, Woody was so much more than that.

“He was a genuine person who did not act like he was any different or any better than anyone else. He was an inspiration to all who encountered him, willing to listen and offer advice if asked but was never judgmental. He accepted people for who they were.

“I had the good fortune to be with Woody several times, and knew that he loved West Virginia and he loved its people.  He was a friend of coal miners, respected their hard work and supported their livelihoods. He was a stalwart defender of veterans and was their fierce advocate every single day.

“Our world needs more people like Woody Williams. He did not shirk his duty when called, and when he came home from the battlefield a hero he did not flaunt it. We will all miss him terribly, and the hearts and prayers of every UMWA member are with his family and friends.”

UMWA convention delegates unanimously vote to continue full support of Warrior Met strike, beef up financial resources

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 17, 2022

 

Negotiations continue, weekly rallies to resume June 22

 

[MCALLA, ALA.] Delegates to the United Mine Workers of America’s (UMWA) Constitutional Convention last week unanimously passed a resolution that committed all necessary resources of the UMWA “for the Union to be victorious in its struggle against Warrior Met.” This action unleashes every available avenue the union has at its disposal to continue the struggle for justice and win a fair contract at Warrior Met Coal.

 

“This is a tremendous show of support and solidarity for the strikers at Warrior Met by every UMWA local union,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “And it was followed by an equally unanimous statement of support for the strikers by the national AFL-CIO at its convention this week.

 

“The entire labor movement is engaged and taking financial and logistical action to win this strike,” Roberts said. “We have received $2.5 million in donations from other unions and individuals to the UMWA Strike Aid Fund which goes directly to our striking members. Other donations are coming. Make no mistake, we will continue to have the resources to win this struggle.”

 

Roberts announced that the union’s weekly Wednesday rallies for strikers and their families will resume after a 3-week hiatus because of the UMWA and AFL-CIO Conventions. “I plan to be at the next rally on June 22, and as always I’ll answer any questions people may have about the strike and what is going on with it.”

 

Roberts also announced that negotiations between the parties will resume next week. “It’s well past time for the company to get off the dime here and get this settled. We are ready to meet all day, every day until we do just that.”

 

 

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UMWA Applauds MSHA Initiative to Reduce Miner’s Exposure to Silica Dust

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 9, 2022

 

UMWA Applauds MSHA Initiative to Reduce Miner’s Exposure to Silica Dust

[TRIANGLE, VA.]  United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members yesterday at the UMWA 56th Consecutive Constitutional Convention strongly approved of the announcement of Chris Williamson, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health about the agency’s new enforcement initiative to reduce miner’s exposure to silica dust.

Coal Miners’ Pneumoconiosis or black lung cases are continuing to rise among coal miners and silica dust exposure has been proven to be the cause.

Coal seams have become deeper and thinner meaning miners are cutting through more waste rock which is high in silica. Silica exposure can also lead to progressive massive fibrosis, lung cancer, and silicosis.

“More than a hundred thousand coal miners have lost their lives to the effects of black lung and we have seen a significant rise in black lung cases among younger miners for several years now,” said International President Cecil E. Roberts.

“It is good to know that MSHA is stepping up enforcement of silica exposure as it prepares a new rule for controlling silica dust.

“We know what causes Black Lung and how to prevent this deadly disease from stealing the lives of our nation’s coal miners. We thank the Assistant Secretary for his leadership on behalf of miners.”

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UMWA Announces Affiliation with West Virginia School Service Personnel Association

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 8, 2022

UMWA Announces Affiliation with West Virginia School Service Personnel Association

 

[TRIANGLE, VA.]  The UMWA International Executive Board yesterday voted unanimously to pursue a partnership with the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association (WVSSPA). The WVSSPA membership covers active and retired workers in a variety of occupations that keep school offices running smoothly including; office work, school transportation, general maintenance, custodial care, school lunch and teacher aides.

 

West Virginia’s school service personnel have weathered recent attacks from the West Virginia Legislature with charter schools, school vouchers and the discontinuation of payroll dues deduction.

 

“The UMWA has always fought to better the lives of working-class families in West Virginia. This affiliation will give the WVSSPA the backing of the greatest Labor Union in the country,” said United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts. “I believe this partnership will strengthen the labor movement in Appalachia and will give a strong voice to thousands of school service personnel.”

 

WVSSPA’s membership delegation ratified the partnership June 3, 2022, at the 2022 WVSSPA General Assembly.

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Next-Gen Battery Maker Sparkz, United Mine Workers of America Announce Labor-Management Agreement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 24, 2022

 

NEXT-GEN BATTERY MAKER SPARKZ, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA ANNOUNCE LABOR-MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT

 

The “memorandum of understanding” is the first step toward establishing one of the largest climate-tech workforce partnerships in US history

 

CHARLESTON, W.Va.–SPARKZ, the next-generation battery manufacturer re-engineering the battery supply chain, and the United Mine Workers of America announced today they have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a labor-management agreement that would mark one of the largest climate-tech union workforce partnerships in the United States.

SPARKZ announced in March it will begin construction in 2022 of a Gigafactory in West Virginia to commercialize their zero-cobalt battery which will initially employ 350 workers and could grow to as many as 3,000.

“SPARKZ is proud to partner with the United Mine Workers of America to help West Virginia workers become part of the new energy economy while re-engineering the battery supply chain domestically,” said SPARKZ founder and CEO Sanjiv Malhotra.  “This partnership is a symbol of American innovation and American workers literally building our energy future together and fighting to end China’s dominance of advanced batteries.”

SPARKZ and the United Mine Workers of America will partner to recruit and train dislocated miners to be the first group of production workers to be hired into the facility. SPARKZ will be focused on creating a strong and diverse workforce capable of competing against foreign batteries made in China and securing the supply chain.

“This agreement is a win-win for the laid-off coal miners who will work in this facility, their families and their communities,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “We have lost thousands of mining jobs over the last decade in West Virginia. This is a first step to putting some of those people back to work in good, well-paying, family-sustaining jobs. We look forward to working with SPARKZ to build on this initiative as traditional energy workers meet the challenges of the ongoing energy transition.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who serves as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and was part of the initial announcement of the SPARKZ facility located in West Virginia, said, “For generations, West Virginia’s brave coal miners have powered our nation to greatness and partnerships like the one between the SPARKZ and the United Mine Workers of America is proof that there is an important role for them to play in our nation’s energy transition. You will not find a harder worker than a coal miner and I am confident this partnership will serve SPARKZ well as they continue to invest in West Virginia and climate technologies that enable us to reduce our reliance on foreign supply chains.”

“DOE is thrilled to support the battery manufacturing industry and labor partners coming together to solve clean energy deployment challenges, like workforce development,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Momentum is building as more companies see that partnering with labor is smart business strategy and key to accelerating an equitable clean energy transition.”

 

About SPARKZ:

Founded by industry veteran and former U.S. Department of Energy executive Sanjiv Malhotra, SPARKZ will begin commercialization of a high energy-density Cobalt-free, American-made Lithium-ion battery, while continuing its groundbreaking research and development focused on re-engineering the rest of the battery supply chain.

The company’s first commercial product will eliminate cobalt, traditionally used in the cathode of a Lithium-ion battery, with the objective of reducing the cost of lithium battery production in the U.S., while also eliminating a primary environmental concern, and reducing chokepoints created by a foreign supply-chain. SPARKZ will be announcing its customer and OEM partnerships soon.

SPARKZ was founded in late 2019 and has been in innovation mode. SPARKZ has completed the transfer of 6 patents from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which continues to be an R&D partner.  In addition to being 100% cobalt-free, the patents also reduce production time significantly and enhance battery performance.

 

About the UMWA

The United Mine Workers of America was founded in 1890 and remains North America’s largest union representing coal miners. The UMWA also represents manufacturing workers, health care workers, public employees, public safety officers, clean coal technicians, and more.

“Preserving Coal Country,” the UMWA’s Principles for the Energy Transition, was released in April 2021, and includes specific language regarding the need to bring quality, high-paying next-generation energy jobs to the coal-producing areas of the country to revitalize communities that have been devastated by the rapid decline in coal production and employment. The partnership the UMWA has developed with SPARKZ helps to meet that goal. The UMWA’s document can be found here.

BlackRock Calls for End to Strike at Warrior Met Coal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAY 4, 2022

BlackRock Calls for End to Strike at Warrior Met Coal

[TRIANGLE, VA.] Commenting on votes by BlackRock Investment Management, the largest shareholder of Warrior Met Coal stock, at Warrior Met’s annual shareholder meeting, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“From the very beginning, we have said that the strike at Warrior Met Coal did not have to happen. It was driven by a senior management that is obsessed with taking as much money out of the company as it can, as fast as possible. They instituted a heavy-handed operational culture that punished workers for having a family and treated them without respect at work.

“It has become clear from the company’s own financial statements that management not only anticipated a strike, but knew its actions would lead to one. It changed its executive compensation parameters to ensure top executives continued to get excessive bonuses and stock options even as the company’s revenues dropped dramatically and its workers were out on the street.

“It is good to see that BlackRock Investment Management, Warrior Met’s leading shareholder, has agreed with our position on these issues and voted accordingly at the company’s most recent Annual Meeting on April 26, 2022. BlackRock advised its investors that, ‘Prolonged operational disruptions, such as labor disputes, can have a negative impact on a company’s financial performance and business resilience. We believe it is in the best economic interests of our clients for Warrior Met Coal and the UMWA to reach a resolution.’ (Click here for the entire Vote Bulletin).

“BlackRock further stated, ‘We don’t believe key executives should be rewarded when the company has been impacted negatively by the ongoing labor dispute and related fall in production, which has meant it has not been able to take advantage of favorable market conditions and maximize long-term value.’ The UMWA could not agree more.

“When even the giant Wall Street firms that own your company say enough is enough, it’s time to end this strike. The workers, families and communities Warrior Met continues to hold hostage by needlessly prolonging this ordeal need to get back to a sense of normalcy and the company needs to get back to full production with an experienced workforce, especially at this time of unprecedented coal prices. Let’s settle this now.”

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