The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 25           July 10, 2006  
UMWA holds rally in W. Virginia
to unionize Peabody mine
(front page)
WHARTON, West Virginia, June 27—Some 1,500 members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and their supporters rallied here June 22 to press for unionization of a mine being opened in the area by Peabody Energy, according to Phil Smith, the UMWA’s communications director.

Peabody is opening the Black Stallion mine nonunion near another Peabody mine represented by the UMWA here in Boone County—an area of southern West Virginia’s coalfields where the union has a strong presence.

The rally, which drew miners and others from across the region, was addressed by UMWA president Cecil Roberts; Joe Carter, the union’s international vice president in West Virginia; state AFL-CIO president Kenny Perdue; and Jim Bowen, retired president of the state labor federation.

“Peabody made the decision for these nonunion workers. They did not give them the option when they hired them,” Roberts told the rally, according WOWK TV Channel 13 News in Charleston, West Virginia.

In 2004 the union launched a campaign called “Justice at Peabody” aimed at organizing Peabody’s nonunion mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Wyoming. With the opening of Black Stallion, the number of nonunion operations in the United States run by the coal giant, the world’s largest private coal producer, now stands at 20.

“We’re very encouraged by the progress of the campaign so far,” Smith told the Militant in a June 27 phone interview. “We’ve seen strong support among Peabody miners and others, particularly in the Midwest.”

One of the key aspects of the campaign has been the union’s demand that the company agree to recognize the union if a majority of workers sign union cards. This counters long delays companies are able to impose before representation elections sponsored by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) take place, Smith said.

“This is very important. The fact is the NLRB process doesn’t work. It’s broken down,” Smith said. “Their intent is helping companies keep unions out and they’re pursuing that with a vengeance.”

According to Channel 13 News, Peabody said the company is not in charge of hiring, since the facility is operated by an independent contractor.

“That may be true but it’s Peabody’s coal,” UMWA Local 1503 president Carl Egnor told Channel 13. “It should be UMWA members mining that coal and we’re gonna make every effort to make it a UMWA mine.”

Paul Pederson contributed to this article.
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