700-Day Coal Miner Strike in Alabama Likely to End – Struggle for Better Contract to Continue
After 700 days of striking, hundreds of coal miners in Brookwood, Alabama are expected to return to work, with no better contract than the one they walked away from nearly two years ago. It is believed to be the longest strike in Alabama’s history.
The strike began in March 2019, when the coal miners at Warrior Met Coal asked for better pay and benefits. When Warrior Met Coal refused, the miners decided to strike. The company was formed in 2016 by the debt holders of the former Walter Energy, which declared bankruptcy in 2015 after the price of steel dropped 44%.
The union, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), has fought to get the company to bargain with the miners, but to no avail. The union has argued that the company should share its current profits with its workers, who took large cuts in pay and benefits several years ago. On February 16, the union made an “unconditional offer to return to work”. The company has yet to respond.
The union has been providing striking miners with an $800 strike check every two weeks, but this is a far cry from the wages they were used to receiving. The National Labor Relations Board has legally required the company to bring back all of the miners, but the company may choose to appeal this. The union has reported that Warrior Met Coal is hesitant to re-employ around 40 miners who have been accused of either violent threats or violent acts.
This story was produced by the Gulf States Newsroom, a collaboration among Mississippi Public Broadcasting, WBHM in Alabama and WWNO and WRKF in Louisiana and NPR. It is likely that the miners will return to work, but the struggle for a better contract will continue.
0. “Warrior Met Coal miners return to work today after historic Alabama strike” AL.com, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.al.com/news/2023/03/warrior-met-coal-miners-return-to-work-today-after-historic-alabama-strike.html
1. “Coal workers' strike in Alabama may be ending — with a big loss for the union” Capital Public Radio News, 28 Feb. 2023, https://www.capradio.org/news/npr/story?storyid=1160157730
2. “Alabama UMWA miners return to Warrior Met jobs, talks to resume” People's World, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/alabama-umwa-miners-return-to-warrior-met-jobs-talks-to-resume
3. “As Alabama coal miners strike nears end, a look at why it started, and how it failed” WRKF, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.wrkf.org/2023-03-02/as-alabama-coal-miners-strike-nears-end-a-look-at-why-it-started-and-how-it-failed
4. “As Alabama coal miners strike nears end, a look at why it started, and how it failed” WBHM, 2 Mar. 2023, https://wbhm.org/2023/as-alabama-coal-miners-strike-nears-end-a-look-at-how-it-started-and-how-it-failed/
5. “Last Stand in Coal Country” Rolling Stone, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/brookwood-alabama-coal-mine-strike-1234678980