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NLRB Orders Mine Workers to Pay Coal Mine 13 Million

The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) to pay more than $13 million to the Alabama coal company it has been striking at for over a year. The approximately 1,100 UMW members began their strike on April 1, 2021. The NLRB found the union owed Warrior Met Coal Mining for increased security, damage repair, and lost revenues from unmined coal, plus interest.

The UMW expressed outrage at the NLRB’s decision: “It is now the policy of the federal government that unions be required to pay a company’s losses as a consequence of their members exercising their rights working people? This is outrageous and effectively negates workers’ right to strike. It cannot stand.” The UMW intends to fight the award, and the union president asserted it does not intend to pay the settlement amount.

The union and company have an existing settlement agreement that requires UMW to pay for "strike misconduct." The union says the charges far exceed the amount estimated by lawyers. Both sides blame the other for the ongoing strike. UMW and the company did reach an agreement shortly after the strike began, but the members rejected the deal. The union said members gave up money to help bring the company out of bankruptcy, and the workers want better health benefits. The company said it offered a competitive package to protect jobs and the company's future. During the strike, both sides accused the other of picket line violence and intimidation tactics. The union alleges that the company has used Alabama law enforcement to bring individuals across the line. The FBI is investigating damage to a company’s natural gas pipeline believed to have been done by an explosive device.