Striking mine workers gather weekly for solidarity rallies on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 PM in Tannehill State Park
[BROOKWOOD, ALA.] Three separate incidents of vehicular assault by persons working for Warrior Met Coal, Inc. have occurred on legal picket lines set up by members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in the last three days, raising questions as to whether the company has determined that violence and the threat of bodily harm are its best responses to the ongoing strike by UMWA miners at the company. Videos of the incidents are available on the UMWA website.
1,100 miners, members of the UMWA have been on strike since April 1st. against Warrior Met Coal at four underground mines north of Tuscaloosa. The ten-week strike, the first coal miner’s strike in Alabama in forty years, is centered on the company’s unwillingness to bargain fairly over wages and benefits. There are also safety concerns and complaints of required long work hours.
Five years ago, the UMWA made major concessions to help the company, owned by Wall Street hedge funds, to emerge from bankruptcy. Since then the workers have helped restore the company to profitable operations but the company has reneged on its promises to restore wage and benefit cuts. Warrior has been bringing “scab labor” to cross the union picket lines which has resulted in some of the recent violent incidents.
“Warrior Met personnel, either management or nonunion workers, have repeatedly struck our members who were engaging in legal picket line activities, with their vehicles,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today. “We have members in casts, we have members in the hospital, we have members who are concerned about their families and potential of violence against them if they come to the picket line.
“We have been to court on multiple occasions regarding what we can and cannot do on the picket lines and our members respect the guidance of the court,” Roberts said. “Warrior Met seems to believe that it is all right to strike people with cars as they engage in legal, protected activity. This is a dangerous course of action that can swiftly lead to events spiraling out of control. That is the last thing anyone should want.
“I call on Warrior Met to back away from violence and finally come to the bargaining table in good faith, ready to hammer out a fair and reasonable agreement,” Roberts said. “But if Warrior Met decides to continue inspiring violence on the picket lines, their leadership should understand that UMWA members have been subjected to company violence for 131 years and will not be deterred from seeking a fair contract for them and their families. We are still here and we will remain here long after those leaders have gone.”