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Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, others call for end to Alabama coal strike


William Thornton, al.com  

 

    Three U.S. senators are calling for the largest shareholder in Warrior Met Coal to bring an end to the ongoing 10-month-old miners strike in Alabama.

    In a letter dated Thursday, U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) call on Laurence Fink, CEO and Chairman of BlackRock, the largest shareholder in Warrior Met, to reach “an immediate and fair settlement” with the striking miners.

    About 1,100 miners with the United Mine Workers of America began a strike against Warrior Met Coal last April 1. The current agreement with the union was negotiated as Warrior Met emerged from the bankruptcy proceedings of the former Walter Energy, which declared bankruptcy in 2016.

    Union members say they made numerous concessions in pay, benefits, holidays, overtime and in other areas to keep the company going and get it out of bankruptcy.

    The picket lines at Brookwood in Tuscaloosa County over the last year have seen strife between strikers and the company over workers bused in to fill jobs, resulting in court action that effectively shutdown the picket line.

    In a two-page letter, the three senators say it’s time for the company to “do the right thing.”

    “Mr. Fink: Our request to you is simple,” the letter reads. “BlackRock’s Board must publicly demand that Warrior Met negotiate in good faith and agree to a reasonable contract that treats workers with dignity and respect.”

    BlackRock’s Manhattan offices have been the scene of protests by the UMWA in June, July and November.

    It’s not the first time the three senators have addressed the companies that they say are the cause of the strike. In November, Warren, Sanders and Baldwin sent a letter to two firms, Apollo Global Management and Blackstone, which previously owned Warrior Met Coal, asking for details regarding the time their companies were invested in the coal company, saying they stripped the miners of pay and benefits while returning dividends to shareholders.

    “In our view, this is precisely the type of corporate greed that the American people are growing increasingly disgusted with,” the letter reads.

    “BlackRock and other Wall Street investment funds have got to understand that they cannot have it all. The workers at Warrior Met are the reason that this company has returned to profitability. All they are asking for is a contract that is fair and just.”

    ©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit al.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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