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March 1, 2015

UMWA, BCOA reach tentative agreement

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Posted: Friday, June 17, 2011 2:00 am

For the Greene County Messenger

Herald-Standard | 0 comments

A tentative 5 1/2-year coal contract would give 10,000 United Mine Workers of America’s (UMWA) miners in seven states, including Pennsylvania and West Virginia, pay raises of $6 an hour over the life of the contract.

The UMWA on Wednesday released highlights of the tentative agreement reached earlier this week with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA). Most area mining companies are signatories to the contract.

The contract, which would run from July 1, 2011, through December 31, 2016, includes two $1-an-hour increases in the first six months of the agreement, on July 1, 2011, and on Jan. 1, 2012, which is an average 8.2 percent increase over current wages. Wages would increase $1 an hour on Jan. 1 of each successive year of the agreement. By 2016, the last year of the agreement, the average UMWA miner would be paid about $30 an hour in straight-time wages.

“This is the largest wage increase in dollar terms over the life of a single agreement UMWA members have ever received in our 121-year history,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said.

In addition, the agreement preserves health-care benefits for active and retired miners with no cuts in benefits. There are no increases in deductibles, co-payments or other out-of-pocket expenses for either individual or family coverage. The agreement also preserves pension benefits, with no cuts in benefits for current or future eligible retirees.

There are several other improvements in the proposed agreement, including increases in shift differential pay, sickness and accident benefits, vision and dental benefits, life insurance benefits and more.

“The UMWA International Executive Board voted unanimously to recommend to the membership that this contract be ratified,” Roberts said. “This proposed agreement meets all the goals set forth as bargaining priorities by the delegates to our most recent convention. It preserves our health-care benefits with no cuts to active and retired members and their families, it preserves our pensions with no cuts to active and retired members or widows, and it provides substantial pay increases so our members can continue to provide for themselves and their families.”

Meetings to explain the tentative agreement to members were held at local unions around the country Wednesday. As required by the UMWA constitution, there is a two-day waiting period before the ratification vote, placing the vote on June 17.

All active members and laid-off members with recall rights at mines that would eventually be covered by this agreement, whether they are controlled by companies that are members of the BCOA or not, are eligible to vote.

Results of the vote will be announced after all local unions have reported their vote totals to the UMWA Friday evening.

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