Energy & Environment

Union clears miners to return to work after longest strike in Alabama history

AP Photo/Dylan Lovan

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has cleared members to return to work at Alabama’s Warrior Met coal mine after a nearly two-year strike.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts announced Thursday that he has submitted a return-to-work letter to Warrior Met CEO Walt Scheller, a legal offer to the company that would allow miners to voluntarily leave the picket line while leadership and management continue negotiating.

“We are entering a new phase of our efforts to win our members and their families the fair and decent contract they need and deserve,” Roberts said in a statement. “We have been locked into this struggle for 23 months now, and nothing has materially changed. The two sides have essentially fought each other to a draw thus far, despite the company’s unlawful bargaining posture the entire time.”

The strike began in April 2021 after the union‘s contract expired before members and the coal company could reach a new agreement. UMWA miners, who comprise about 1,100 of the company’s 1,400 miners, responded by walking off the job. The resulting strike, in which about 800 workers are still participating, is the longest ongoing strike in the state’s history.

Union miners have argued they were guaranteed pay increases and improved benefits under the contract negotiated with Walter Energy, which Warrior Met was formed to buy in 2015.  

“We have long said that we are ready to get in the same room with Warrior Met leadership and stay there until we have an agreement,” Roberts said. “So far the company has not been willing to do that. I sincerely hope that Warrior Met leadership will accept this offer, get our members back to work, engage in good faith bargaining and finally sit down face-to-face with us to resolve this dispute for the betterment of all concerned.”

The Hill has reached out to Warrior Met for comment.

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