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Several former Blackjewel and Eastern Kentucky coal miners on strike following failed contract negotiations in Alabama

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 4:02 PM EDT
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TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WYMT/WBRC) - More than 1,100 workers at the Warrior Met coal mine in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama are on strike. It began April 1, 2021.

Several of those miners are former Blackjewel employees and others are from Eastern Kentucky.

The United Mine Workers of America is claiming unfair labor practices, especially since the company filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

The company says they’re offering benefits that compete with other jobs while protecting the company’s future. Negotiations between the two sides have been ongoing.

Steven Baker, one of the miners at Warrior Met is from Harlan County. He worked at several coal mines in the region before he was laid off.

He moved to Alabama to work for Warrior Met four and a half years ago. He says there were no more opportunities for him in Harlan and he wanted a better life for his kids.

“I saw how the coal companies came in to Eastern Kentucky and used up all the resources and just left it as it was without thinking about any of the repercussions. I think these companies down here would do the same thing if you let them and they don’t have as much concern for their people as they should,” said Baker.

Baker said this was the first time he was on strike with this company as the contract between the union and Warrior Met ended April 1.

He says after the company filed for bankruptcy in 2016, the workers made sacrifices and worked hard to get the company back on its feet, and they just want equal treatment.

Baker says he feels the mining industry is more stable in Alabama, and he does believe the strike will lead to better pay and benefits.

Officials with the union announced Monday, a tentative collective bargaining agreement was reached between them and Warrior Met Coal.

The union is not releasing details about the agreement until members are told and a vote is held. That vote is currently set for April 9.

Our sister station, WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama has more about this story including a statement from the coal company. Click here to learn more about the strike.

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