Throughout the U.S., the labor movement is growing in new industries such as technology and development, and it is rejuvenating in sectors like mining working and other labor-centric industries.
United Mine Workers of America Director of Governmental Affairs Phil Smith joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss an ongoing strike, how the workers rose up and what is being offered. He also gave an update on the current state of the mining industry.
Mine workers on strike
Mine workers in Alabama are striking for better pay and benefits, something they have wanted for years. At this particular mine, ownership has changed hands multiple times in recent years, further complicating the matter. The strike has consisted of weekly rallies by mine workers and allies in the labor community.
Warrior Met Coal, the mine’s owner, declared bankruptcy and the only way the company can recover from is if the miners accept a new contract. Smith said the contract is subpar and does not meet their standards.
The new contract was not good for the workers, as it cut wages, diminished their healthcare and benefits and impacted the amount of time workers were allowed to take off. Smith said this contract is unacceptable. The workers are highly skilled and work in one of the most dangerous environments.
The current mining industry
People in the area have been misguided and believe President Biden is planning to end the mining industry altogether, which Smith said is not true. Phasing out the use of fossil fuels will happen over time and will coincide with the retraining of workers.
Smith said the main effort right now is to get as close to carbon neutral as possible. However, mining will still occur and people will continue working.