United Mine Workers poster
1,100 workers, members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union have been on strike for three weeks, at the Warrior Met mine in Brookwood, Alabama, north of Tuscaloosa. Union workers made concessions in wages and benefits in 2016 when Jim Walters Industries, prior owner of the mine went bankrupt. The company was taken over by Wall Street hedge funds who have made millions in reviving the company. Warrior Met mines metallurgical coal for steel production over 2000 feet under the ground. After five years, the UMWA tried to negotiate a new contract for workers restoring wage and benefits cuts but the company refused to meet union demands, so the workers went on strike to enforce their demands. Cecil Roberts, President of the UMWA said,” We made the sacrifices that brought this company out of bankruptcy. While upper management was getting bonuses, UMWA miners took pay and benefit cuts., members of United Mine Workers of America The productive, professional miners at Warrior Met mined the coal that meant the company could become successful again. The people who manage the Wall Street hedge funds that own Warrior Met don’t know us, they don’t know our families, they don’t know our communities. And they don’t care. All they care about is sucking as much money as they can, every day that they can, from central Alabama. We want Warrior Met to be successful. But they can be successful and fair to its workers and communities at the same time.” Richard Trumka, National President of the AFL-CIO and past President of the UMWA, said, “To Warrior Met and all the union-busters out there: No matter how much you intimidate us…no matter how hard you try to break us… Working people are not going to cave or capitulate! We’re not going to give in or give up. We will prevail!” The union leadership brought management’s first contract offer to the members for a vote. This offer was rejected by the members and they sent their negotiators back to the table with the company, which has begun to bring in un-trained workers to mine the coal rather than negotiate fairly with the union.