MCCALLA, Alabama — United Mine Workers of America members who’ve been on strike for a year against Warrior Met Coal were joined in a solidarity rally here April 6 by hundreds of unionists from across the South and Midwest. Over 1,500 workers chanted “UMWA” and “One day longer, one day stronger” at the spirited gathering.
AFL-CIO union federation presidents from Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama joined UMWA President Cecil Roberts in condemning Warrior Met for its union-busting efforts and pledged to build more support. Anthony Shelton, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, told the rally, “The BCTGM had four strikes last year and we got solidarity and won them. The UMWA and other unions helped us and we’re helping you. We’re going to win this one!”
“We hear about Russian oligarchs,” Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan said, “but we have oligarchs in the U.S., like the ones trying to break the union here.”
“I’m on the bus because I hate it when companies try to take advantage of workers,” retired Ford and United Auto Workers Local 862 member Will Minter told this Militant worker-correspondent. He and his wife, Debbie, rode on the Kentucky AFL-CIO bus from Louisville with members of the UAW, Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers and BCTGM.
Warrior Met is a major U.S. producer of metallurgical coal that is sold to steel bosses worldwide.
Jim Walter Resources, former owner of the mine, went belly up in 2015. As part of bankruptcy proceedings, top hedge fund creditors led by BlackRock told miners they would only take over and keep the mine operating if workers accepted wage cuts of over 20%, higher costs for health care, forced Sunday work and more concessions.
Even though the mine is now highly profitable, the bosses are demanding further givebacks.
The mine is less than 30 miles from Bessemer, where many Amazon warehouse workers are fighting for a union. Some strikers are working at the warehouse, as the battle with Warrior Met continues.
Braxton Wright, a striker working at Amazon, joined in pushing for a union there. He tells co-workers they should look at what having the United Mine Workers has done for the miners.
Send donations to UMWA 2021 Strike Fund at P.O. Box 513, Dumfries, VA 22026. Send messages of support to UMWA District 20, 21922 Hwy. 216, McCalla, AL 35111.