The NLRB Ordered the United Mine Workers to Pay $13 Million. This Video May Show Why.
As evidenced by a video released, the Alabama miners' strike has been marred by violence since last year.
Earlier this week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) assessed the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)—which has been on strike in Alabama against Warrior Met Coal since April 1, 2021—to pay $13.3 million to the company for “for costs including increased security, damage repair and lost revenues from unmined coal,” as well as “almost $30,000” to individuals, mostly for damage to vehicles.
Although the union entered into a settlement agreement with the NLRB in June, which included the statement that the union would “compensate Warrior Met Coal Mining, LLC, its contractors, and its employees, for economic losses incurred as a result of our unlawful actions,” the union is balking at the amount.
According to the Associated Press:
The union and company signed an agreement providing that the union pay damages for “strike misconduct,” and the board approved it, [NLRB] spokeswoman Kayla Blado said.
The agency is currently assessing the cost, she said.
“If there is not agreement with the region’s ultimate conclusion, the region will commence a proceeding before an administrative law judge where the parties can present arguments and evidence about what each considers to be appropriate damages,” Blado stated.
Late last year, a video released (below) showed some of the alleged picket-line violence, which also identifies some of the alleged perpetrators.
WARNING: Due to the graphic content, YouTube has placed restrictions on the viewing of this video. Click on the video to view on YouTube.
That $13 million cost Region 10 assessed stems from the NLRB settlement in which the union agreed to:
Cease and desist from:
(a) Blocking ingress and egress at the Charging Party’s facilities.
(b) Engaging in unlawful activity at or in the vicinity of the Charging Party’s facilities.
(c) Coercing or threatening the Charging Party’s security guards stationed at the Charging Party’s facilities.
(d) Engaging in threats, vandalism, and/or physical violence at or in the vicinity of the Charging Party’s facilities.
(e) Placing jackrocks and/or any other hazardous objects at, in the vicinity of, and/or in the roads leading to and from the Charging Party’s facilities.
(f) In any like or related manner restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed them in Section 7 of the Act.
And, specifically, the UMWA agreed to the following statement:
“WE WILL compensate Warrior Met Coal Mining, LLC, its contractors, and its employees, for economic losses incurred as a result of our unlawful actions.”
Although the settlement agreement appears to have been entered into to avoid a NLRB hearing, which would likely include video evidence, the union is objecting to the amount.
“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,” the union stated earlier this week.
“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 in the union’s press release. “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 in the statement. “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 Mineworkers’ union is getting support from other unions in challenging the NLRB’s assessment, which issued a press release on Friday.
On Thursday, Warrior Met Coal reported $6.3 million in business expenses directly attributable to the strike for security, labor negotiations and other expenses.
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