Murray Mines Sue UMWA

Five mines owned by Robert E. Murray have sued the United Mine Workers of America claiming a breach of the 2011 BCOA contract, because the miners are making 103(g) hazard complaints to MSHA, instead of first going to the union or management with the hazard complaints. The complaint can be viewed here: 2015.09.18COMPLAINT-ConsolidationCoalv.UMWA-USDCNDWV

According to the lawsuit filed on Sept. 18, 2015, UMWA miners have an obligation under their union contract to first let a union rep know of a health and safety violation. That rep is then to let management know of the violation. If a miner believes his life is in danger because of a violation, management and the UMWA have 4 hours to correct the problem. In addition, BCOA-contract miners have a right to file a grievance within 24 hours regarding a health and safety dispute.

Murray Energy Corp. claims in the lawsuit that five mines acquired from Consol generated 54 mine safety complaints under the Mine Act’s Section 103(g), by calling MSHA’s toll-free hotline. “By contrast, MEC’s seven then-existing and controlled mines generated 37 Section 103(g) complaints received though MSHA’s 800 line.”

Murray Energy claims that MSHA’s hotline complaints have increased by 85%, and that 1/2 of those complaints were meritless.

The complaint filed in court also names UMWA representative Ronald Bowersox, claiming he organized several UMWA members to file the MSHA hotline complaints.

Phil Smith, the spokesman for the UMWA, said, “The Murray Energy lawsuit is completely without merit. We look forward to defending our members’ health and safety on the job in court as well as in the mines.”

The below figures are from the MSHA DRS on hazard complaints. You can see the number of hazard complaints and the number of citations and orders issued by MSHA inspectors based on those complaints. We have compared complaints of three – three-year periods:
The year before the sale of the mines was announced by Consol; the year after the sale to Murray Energy; and, a year-to-date perspective. Some complaints generated more than one violation, and many complaints showed no violations. For a complete list, see Mine Safety and Health News, October 2015 edition.

Dates:
Oct. 28, 2012 – Oct. 27, 2013 is one year before the sale announcement.
Oct. 28, 2013 – Oct. 27, 2014 is one year after the sale announcement
Oct. 28, 2014 – YTD represents a one-year time period

Ohio County Mine (formerly the Shoemaker Mine)
Oct. 28, 2014 – Present: 9 hazard complaints, 7 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2013 – Oct. 27, 2014: 5 hazard complaints, 2 violation cited
Oct. 28, 2012 – Oct. 27, 2013: No hazard complaints

Harrison County Mine (formerly the Robinson Run 95 Mine)
Oct. 28, 2014 – Present: 31 hazard complaints with 22 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2013 – Oct. 27, 2014: 16 hazard complaints with 14 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2012 – Oct. 27, 2013: 9 hazard complaints with 6 violations cited

Monongalia County Mine (formerly the Blacksville #2 Mine)
Oct. 28, 2014 – Present: 16 hazard complaints with 9 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2013 – Oct. 27, 2014: 9 complaints with 5 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2012 – Oct. 27, 2013: 8 hazard complaints with 7 violations cited

Marion County Mine (formerly the Loveridge #22 Mine)
Oct. 28, 2014 – Present: 27 hazard complaints with 47 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2013 – Oct. 27, 2014: 21 hazard complaints with 24 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2012 – Oct. 27, 2013: 22 hazard complaints with 29 violations cited

Marshall County Mine (formerly the McElroy Mine)
Oct. 28, 2014 – Present: 28 complaints with 53 citations and orders
Oct. 28, 2013 – Oct. 27, 2014: 20 complaints with 30 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2012 – Oct. 27, 2013: 6 complaints with 2 violations cited

Totals of the 5 mines listed in the complaint:
Oct. 28, 2014 – Present: 111 complaints with 138 citations and orders
Oct. 28, 2013 – Oct. 27, 2014: 71 complaints with 75 violations cited
Oct. 28, 2012 – Oct. 27, 2013: 45 complaints with 44 citations and orders