Striking Alabama coal miners say they’re targets of violence

Published 5:52 am Thursday, June 10, 2021

Miners striking against an Alabama coal company say they’re being targeted on the picket line.

In a video on YouTube, a red truck can be seen hitting one picketer, while another view shows a black truck driving through a line with one striking miner barely getting out of its path, reported.

The incidents have occurred over the last few days, said Larry P. Spencer, United Mine Workers of America International vice president for District 20.

“It looks like there are guys coming off the road pretty fast,” Spencer said. “Our people don’t have any time to get out of the way.”

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office told that they were unaware of any reports related to the incidents.

In a statement, Warrior Met Coal said it was granted a court-ordered injunction to maintain a safe environment for its employees, “including those actively at work and those currently on strike.”

“This injunction was put in place due to unlawful activity on the picket lines early during the strike, to allow for peaceful ingress and egress to our facilities, as well as maintain public safety,” the company said. “Among other items, the injunction specifically prohibits picketers from interfering, hindering or obstructing ingress and egress to the company’s properties. This is a stressful situation for all individuals involved, and continued violations of the injunction have resulted in recent incidents.”
A walkout by 1,100 workers at the company began April 1 after contract talks failed. Members said they made sacrifices to save the company a few years ago and want better pay and health benefits.

Miners rejected the company’s initial offer less than two weeks after the strike began, and Mine Workers International President Cecil Roberts said the company has refused to engage in “meaningful negotiations.”

Warrior Met Coal has continued with operations during the strike. The company produces coal used in steel production in Asia, Europe and South America.

UMWA International President Cecil Roberts blamed the company for the alleged attacks, saying members are “concerned about their families and potential of violence against them if they come to the picket line.”

“We have been to court on multiple occasions regarding what we can and cannot do on the picket lines and our members respect the guidance of the court,” Roberts said. “Warrior Met seems to believe that it is all right to strike people with cars as they engage in legal, protected activity. This is a dangerous course of action that can swiftly lead to events spiraling out of control. That is the last thing anyone should want.”

Warrior Met Coal’s statement said the company does not “condone any acts of violence.”

“We are thankful for the support of local law enforcement as we navigate through these issues,” the company said. “We remain committed to active negotiations with the goal of reaching a fair contract that protects jobs and ensures the longevity of the company.”