The United Mine Workers at Murray Energy mines voted Friday to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement negotiated with Bituminous Coal Operators Association.
The five-year agreement was ratified with 60.3 percent of the members voting in favor of the contract, the union said.
“This was a tough vote for our members to take,” UMW President Cecil E. Roberts said in a news release.
“The coal industry is in a depression and more than 50 companies have filed for bankruptcy in the last few years,” Roberts said. “Thousands have been laid off. The pressures on those who are still working are tremendous and growing.”
The agreement maintains wages at current levels and includes a wage reopener after three years, the union said. Health care benefits for active and retired workers and their dependents remain intact, with slight increases in out-of-pocket costs but no monthly premiums.
The company also agreed to remain in the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan, the UMW said. The union voted in June to reject an earlier tentative agreement with the BCOA.
BOCA includes several companies, the largest of which is Murray Energy, which employs more than 1,700 UMW employees at its six mines in northern West Virginia and Ohio.
“This is a good day for Murray American’s UMWA-represented employees, as this agreement will go a long way toward ensuring that our coal mines can keep operating, and our employees working, even in the current depressed coal marketplace,” Robert E. Murray, chief executive officer of Murray Energy and BCOA chairman, said in a statement.
Murray Energy’s closest mine is the Monongalia County Mine, formerly Blacksville No. 2, in West Virginia, just across the Greene County line. It mines coal in Greene County.
The agreement will run Aug. 15 to Dec, 31, 2021.