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1/28/2005

Co-OP Miners to Speak at Sundance Film Festival

Delegation of Co-Op Miners to Speak at Sundance Film Festival Premiere of New Print of Barbara Kopple's Award-Winning Film Harlan County USA

Miners to Draw Comparisons Between Their Struggle and the Brookside Miners

Following the premiere screening of a new print of Barbara Kopple's award-winning documentary Harlan County USA at the renowned Sundance Film Festival, a delegation of coal miners from the Co-Op mine near Huntington, Utah, will tell the audience about their current struggle for union representation. The Co-Op mine is owned and operated by C.W. Mining Company, which is controlled by Utah's Kingston family.

On December 16, 2004, the Co-Op miners-many of whom are Latinos who say they worked in sometimes unsafe conditions and were paid between $5-7 per hour-conducted a vote for union representation. The miners were voting for one of three options: representation by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the company union or no union at all. The results of the vote have been impounded while the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C., decides whether or not to uphold an earlier decision by the Denver NLRB to bar Kingston family members from participating in the election. The Denver NLRB agreed with the UMWA that Kingston family members should not be allowed to vote because their interests are more aligned with mine management and not with the workers who petitioned for the election.

Just prior to the vote, a majority of the Latino miners were fired due to what C.W. Mining called their "undocumented status." This was after many had worked for the company for years. Even so, most of the Co-Op miners-including the miners who were fired and Kingston family members-voted in the election. The UMWA has filed a number of unfair labor practice charges against the employer on behalf of the displaced workers.

"The Co-Op miners' fight for fair wages, benefits and protections is not unlike the Brookside miners bitter struggle in 1973 to convince Eastover Mining Company to sign a contract after they organized," said UMWA International President Cecil Roberts. "The re-launch of this powerful film provides an excellent forum for the Co-Op miners to explain what is happening to them to a much broader audience. After viewing the film, I believe everyone at the screening will have a deeper appreciation for the struggle America's coal miners-and a great many more working people-have fought in the past and are still fighting today."

The new print of Harlan County USA will premiere at noon on January 28 at the Egyptian Theater on Main Street in Park City, Utah.

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