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Miners ratify contract

Miners have ratified a contract with the Pittston Coal Group after striking for nearly 11 months. Labor leaders credited the miners with helping to rejuvenate the trade union movement. Striking and laid-off United Mine Workers (UMW) from Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky voted 1,247 to 734 Monday to accept a contract nearly identical to a national UMW agreement that Pittston broke away from in May 1987. (See provisions, right)

"This is a victory for all workers," UMW Vice President Cecil Roberts told about 50 striking miners in announcing the results Tuesday at a union office here.

The settlement ends a strike punctuated by violence, sit-down strikes and other tactics that resulted in millions of dollars in fines against the union.

It could be a week to 10 days before the 1,700 active miners return to work, because mines must be re-inspected and workers must go through training courses, officials said.

UMW members across the country had viewed Pittston as a maverick company attempting to break the union, a claim the company vigorously denied. The union also felt other companies would copy Pittston's tactics if it won concessions.

Pittston President Michael Odom said, "We've got a worthy contract for employees, the union and the company."

Here are key provisions of the contract approved by mine workers who have been on strike against the Pittston Coal Group:

Term: 4 years.

Wages: top scale of $17.52 an hour in selected positions, a raise of $1.20 an hour.

Health benefits: 100 percent medical coverage for employees, pensioners and their families.

Job security: Pittston can hire contract workers for transportation and equipment repair and maintenance if no union miners are laid off.

Working hours: flexible schedules, including four-day weeks of 10 hours each.