In the largest coal mine work stoppage in the state since 1993, some 1,100 miners have been on strike at the Warrior Met Mine in Brookwood since April 1. Stuart Appelbaum, President of RWDSU and Executive Vice-President at UFCW, on Twitter.
BROOKWOOD, Ala.—Last weekend, several groups at home and across the country expressed their solidarity with the United Mine Workers strike in the small Alabama town of Brookwood. In an immense show of support from the community, Alabama union talk radio show The Valley Labor Report hosted a fundraiser which brought in $70,000 to support striking mineworkers.
In the largest coal mine work stoppage in the state since 1993, some 1,100 miners have been on strike at the Warrior Met Mine in Brookwood since April 1. The miners supply metallurgical coal for steel production, which has seen demand rise along with the price of steel and other construction materials.
In 2016, with the mine facing bankruptcy, the miners had accepted a $6-per-hour pay cut and a significant reduction in benefits, putting them below average for miners in the state. They also gave utmost control over their own schedules, including days off and lunch breaks.
Their sacrifices—tied with the transfer of the mine from Walter Energy to its current ownership, a conglomeration of many big Wall Street names like the investment giants Blackrock, JPMorgan Chase, Vanguard, SSgA, and Fidelity Management—not only kept the mine operational but have led to record productivity. Two of the past five years have seen record output and profitability, but the benefits of those gains have only accrued to the owners and management.
The management at Warrior Met is now asking for even more concessions from the workers, despite having enough operating capital to give bonuses to company executives and $35,000 bonuses to managers.
During the strike, the Warrior Met company sought and has been given a judicial injunction against its own workers, limiting the number of miners allowed to picket at each entrance to six—small enough that the company can easily bring in scabs to keep the mine operational.
With the company having wielded judicial power to harm the strike and without a large enough profit motive to force a change quickly, the strike may have to continue for many more weeks. Ongoing support and solidarity will be an important part of the miners’ struggle going forwards.
This article was first published by People's World.