Co-Op miners and their supporters set up a picket line at the road that leads to the Co-Op mine near Huntington, recently. The miners have been involved in a now more than 20 month battle with C.W. Mining, the company that owns Co-Op, to get the United Mine Workers of America organized at the mine. The miners report that they were making very low wages at the mine, many making $5.25 to $7.00 per hour with no benefits or pensions to speak of.
The picket line included Co-Op miners, members of United Mine Workers of America Local 1769 from the Deer Creek Mine and retired miners waved signs that said "UMWA is here to stay. We Want the UMWA. We were fired for union activity. Count the Votes," to all of the cars and coal trucks who passed by on the road to the mine and on the busy highway that it intersects.
On Dec. 17, 2004 a union election was held at the mine. Eight days before the union election, the mine allegedly fired 30 miners, all Mexican-born workers, for allegedly not having valid documentation showing eligibility to work in the United States. The union election was held and the Co-Op miners are still waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to count the votes.
This was the second time the miners had been fired. In July 2004, the Co-Op miners won their jobs back after being fired on Sept. 23, 2003.
At that time the UMWA filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board that the miners had been illegally fired for union activity. Following a 10 month strike, the NLRB ruled in favor of the miners and ordered C.W. Mining to reinstate all of the fired miners and ordered a union election to be held.
Brad Timothy, who was just elected the new President of UMWA 1769 at the Deer Creek Mine, said "We are here to support our fellow workers. If we can't support them we are no good. We need to share our goodness with others."