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Peabody Energy coal miners rally in St. Louis for recognition of their right to form a union

St. Louis, MO —Peabody Energy workers and community leaders today decried routine violations of basic human rights in the workplace as they marched on Peabody’s headquarters here to kick off a major campaign by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) to help workers at Peabody mines across America form a union.

“We’re here today to let Peabody know loud and clear that the UMWA hasn’t gone away, we’re not going away, and we will be part of Peabody’s future in North America,” said UMWA International President Cecil Roberts. “The workers in Peabody’s non-union mines work under terrible conditions. More and more of them are asking for us to help them form a union, and we’re going to do just that.”

Peabody miners say they want to raise their standard of living with better pay, benefits and workplace safety improvements. Miners in attendance at the rally said union jobs with good benefits will boost morale and productivity and help their local economies.

“I pay anywhere between $300 to $500 a month in prescription drug costs because of Peabody’s sub-par health benefit package. Only with a union contract will we have better pay and benefits because its obvious Peabody is not going to give it to us,” said John Cox, a Peabody miner from Illinois.

Another Peabody miner, Greg Arnold of Indiana, said that he works “eleven-hour shifts Monday through Friday, then another eight hours on Saturday–without a lunch break.” Arnold said that despite this grueling 63-hour a week schedule, he receives no sick days. “I’d like a voice about my job—a seat at the table,” Arnold said.

To show support for their American counterparts, a delegation from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) traveled from Australia to attend the event.

CFMEU National Secretary John Maitland said the Australian mine workers union stands firmly behind the Peabody miners in the United States.

“Peabody has operations in Australia and miners there have chosen union representation. These U.S. Peabody miners deserve the same freedom to form a union if they so choose,” said Maitland.

The march and rally in St. Louis coincided with educational workshops, rallies, hearings and town hall meetings around the country organized by the AFL-CIO. Across America, workers called on elected officials to support workers’ efforts to form unions and to push for strong legislation to back up their support. Event organizers said the St. Louis events are only the beginning and the campaign will continue until workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain collectively is restored.

“The entire American labor movement is solidly behind the courageous miners at Peabody Energy who want to organize with the UMWA,” said Stewart Acuff, Organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. “Peabody’s management needs to do the right thing, remain neutral and let the workers decide this issue, free from company intimidation and harassment. The freedom to organize is a basic human right that must be respected by every American company.”

At a press conference before the rally, Roberts noted that Peabody Energy President and Chief Operating Officer Gregory H. Boyce said during a recent shareholders meeting the company had reduced the intensity of unionization at its facilities and would continue on that path.

“American workers are supposed to have the right to form a union and collectively bargain with their employers,” Roberts said. “In fact, many often do not get to enjoy this right because of the atmosphere of intimidation, fear and reprisal companies use to scare them away from organizing. It’s wrong, it violates the spirit of America, and we’re going to fight against it wherever it occurs – including at Peabody,” Roberts said.


Blogger T. Harris said...

Americans need to do some major housecleaning. Since stuff like this isn't confined to just the mining sector, I have severly curtailed any shopping I do with chain stores and fast food places. Any dollar you can spend with one of the local businesses in your area is a dollar that doesn't go directly into the hands of the corporate elitists who are destroying this country. I think this is the only way to make them wake up to the fact that the people in this country are getting tired of their greed and lack of respect for their fellow Americans.

3:36 AM  

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