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Vol. 75/No. 22      June 6, 2011

Illinois coal miners vote
UMWA, fight for contract
(front page)
Coal miners at the large Willow Lake underground mine facility in Equality, Illinois, voted last week to join the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The union is now fighting for a new contract.

The Peabody Energy-owned mine employs 444 workers and has a long record of safety violations.

Since 2008 Peabody has been fined $230,000 for dangerous conditions at Willow Lake, including inadequate roof support and excessive coal dust. In 2009 the mine had an accident rate more than double the national average. In 2010 a supervisor at the mine was killed when a shuttle car hauling coal struck him.

Willow Lake is one of two Peabody mines under investigation by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). On May 25 an administrative law judge ordered Peabody to release files on accidents, injuries, and work-related illnesses that it withheld from MSHA, claiming concern for the “privacy” of its workers. Massey Energy Co., another coal company with a deadly safety record, was ordered to do the same.

Prior to voting in the UMWA, miners at Willow Lake were represented by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers Union.

Volunteers from the Militant Army are headed to Equality, Illinois, to talk to miners and workers in the local community about the struggle at the Willow Lake mine. A report will appear in next week’s issue.
Related articles:
Democratic-led county council in Maryland cuts workers’ benefits
Spain: workers, youth protest joblessness, cuts
Higher taxes or layoffs of teachers? A fake trade-off
Union officials deal blow to solidarity  
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