Union mines safer, more productive, study finds

Amid mounting concerns about the health and safety risks faced by coal miners, a new study finds that unionized coal mines may offer a better work environment for their employees.

A study from SNL Energy finds that unionized coal miners are safer than mines that are not unionized. There were 16 mining deaths in 2014, according to the study, but only one of those deaths occurred at a unionized mine.

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The study compared 1,032 non-union mines to 54 unionized mines.

"Underground coal mines in Appalachia that have unionized are not only safer, but also more productive," according to the report.

In 2014, the union mines were about 16 percent more productive than non-unionized mines. Coal mines produced 4.09 tons of coal per employee each hour, while non-union coal mines only proposed 3.54 tons.