MCCALLA, Ala. — Heading into their third month on strike, some 1,100 United Mine Workers of America members at Warrior Met Coal are maintaining round-the-clock picket lines at more than a dozen mine portals, railroad crossings, a coal preparation plant and other company sites in Brookwood.
Some 600 miners, family members and supporters took part in the union’s weekly unity rally May 26 at Tannehill State Park here. In addition to UMWA President Cecil Roberts, speakers included AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and American Federation of Government Employees President Everett Kelley.
The miners are fighting to regain ground lost in 2016, when major concessions in wages, benefits and working conditions were forced on the union when the mines’ previous owner, Jim Walter Resources, filed for bankruptcy and its major creditors and other investors set up a “reorganized” company.
A message of solidarity from Pete Gushwa, president of SMART-Transportation Division Local 324 in the Seattle area, was read to the rally by UMWA International District 20 Vice President Larry Spencer. “We wanted to reach out to say how proud we are of you all for taking a stand against the tyranny of corporate America and the oppression of the working class,” wrote Gushwa. “‘An injury to one is an injury to all’ is a motto we believe strongly in, and we stand in support of your fight.”
The UMWA had organized a march of hundreds of miners and family members to a No. 7 mine portal the day before the rally. Eleven UMWA members, including Roberts, were arrested for trespassing on company property. They were loaded onto a Tuscaloosa County sheriff’s van and held until 5 a.m. the following morning. Several videos of the demonstration and arrests are posted on the www.umwa.org website.
Support and solidarity are needed. A food bank has been set up by the UMWA locals at Warrior Met to aid strikers and their families. Checks should be made out to UMWA 2021 Strike Aid Fund and mailed to UMWA Strike Aid Fund, P.O. Box 513, Dumfries, VA 22026. Messages of support can be sent to District 20, 21922 Hwy. 216 (Miners’ Memorial Parkway), McCalla, AL 35111. Email: email@example.com.