Labor, Management Hail Coal Pact as Good for Both

By Christopher Carey Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 16, 1993 | Go to article overview

Labor, Management Hail Coal Pact as Good for Both


Christopher Carey Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


After seven months at odds, unionized miners and some of the nation's biggest coal companies agree that their new labor contract bodes well for the future.

Richard Trumka, president of the United Mine Workers of America, said Wednesday the agreement was the strongest the union had ever won.

"Today marks the start of a new era in labor-management relations in the coalfields," he said.

David Young, president of Old Ben Coal Co. - the biggest producer in Illinois - was equally enthusiastic.

"This offers a breath of fresh air in what has been a long, difficult time for our employees, our company and the communities in which we operate," he said.

But one securities analyst said the union and the companies probably still have reservations about the contract, which miners approved Tuesday by a 2-1 margin.

"Both sides are pretty battle weary right now," said Rafael Villagran, who follows the industry for Lehman Brothers in New York. "They're not really sure whether they should be happy or not."

The return of some 17,500 miners who have been off the job for all or part of the last seven months is cause for celebration by the UMWA and the companies, Villagran said.

And because the terms of the contract will improve job security for miners while increasing operating flexibility for the producers, it will help unionized operations compete with non-union ones, Villagran said.

"It sort of levels the playing field," he said.

The biggest accomplishment for the UMWA was a clause that gives union miners the rights to three out of every five new jobs created by the coal companies and all of their subsidiaries - even non-union ones. …

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