Peabody is opening the Black Stallion mine nonunion near another Peabody mine represented by the UMWA here in Boone Countyan area of southern West Virginias 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 unions 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 Peabodys 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 worlds largest private coal producer, now stands at 20.
Were very encouraged by the progress of the campaign so far, Smith told the Militant in a June 27 phone interview. Weve seen strong support among Peabody miners and others, particularly in the Midwest.
One of the key aspects of the campaign has been the unions 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 doesnt work. Its broken down, Smith said. Their intent is helping companies keep unions out and theyre 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 its Peabodys coal, UMWA Local 1503 president Carl Egnor told Channel 13. It should be UMWA members mining that coal and were gonna make every effort to make it a UMWA mine.
Paul Pederson contributed to this article.
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