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A federal oversight board ordered the United Mine Workers of America to pay more than $13 million in compensation to an Alabama coal company where members have been on strike for more than a year, a ruling the union said Wednesday it would challenge.
The National Labor Relations Board said Warrior Met Coal Mining was due some $13.3 million for costs including increased security, damage repair and lost revenues from unmined coal, and individuals were due almost $30,000, mostly for damage to vehicles. Both amounts included interest.
The union, with roughly 1,100 members who went on strike against the Alabama-based company on April 1, 2021, called the NLRB assessment an "outrageous" decision that it planned to fight.
"Is it now the policy of the federal government that unions be required to pay a company’s losses as a consequence of their members exercising their rights as working people? This is outrageous and effectively negates workers’ right to strike. It cannot stand," international union president Cecil E. Roberts said in a statement.
A company representative did not immediately return an email seeking comment. The NLRB issued the order on July 22.
Both the union and Warrior Met have blamed each other for the prolonged strike, which centers on the company's mining operations southwest of Birmingham. The two sides have talked as recently as last week, a union spokesman said.
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The union is striking at Warrior Met's No. 4 and No. 7 mines, a preparation plant and a central shop, all in Tuscaloosa County. The union and Warrior Met reached an agreement to end the walkout a few days after it began, but members rebuffed the settlement.