The workers at the nonunion mine featured in Spike TV’s 2011 reality show “Coal” voted this week to join the Mine Workers (UMWA). The 23 miners work at Cobalt Coal’s Westchester in McDowell County, W.Va.
Concerns about safety practices at the mine were raised after the airing of the first few episodes last year. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training cited the mine for several violations based on practices shown in the program.
“I congratulate the miners at Cobalt on their decision to join the UWMA," said UMWA President Cecil Roberts.
We welcome them to the union family, and we look forward to sitting down with management and negotiating an agreement that is fair and equitable for both sides.
Miners’ safety is a major part of UMWA contracts which call for establishment of local union safety committees and provide miners protection from retaliation for pointing out safety issues at the mines.
The recent Stanford University study, “Coal Mine Safety: Do Unions Make a Difference,” confirmed that fatality and injury rates are significantly lower at mines where the miners are represented by the UMWA.