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United Mine Workers of America

(UMWA)

18354 Quantico Gateway Dr., Suite 200
Triangle, VA 22172-1179

 

Membership

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The United Mine Workers currently has 79,835 dues-paying members.  This number represents a significant drop since 2008 when the membership was at 100,000.

 

Affiliations

Structure

icon_structureThe UMWA is composed of an international HQ, district, sub-district and local unions. The International Union has jurisdiction over all district, sub-districts and local unions and is governed by the constitution.

The officers in the Union include the president, the secretary treasurer, and an executive board composed of one member from each district under the jurisdiction of the United Mine Workers. Each district elects a member to the international executive board.

The president presides at all general conventions of the Union and meetings of the international executive board. The executive board is in charge of signing bills.  The president has the power to remove any international officer for insubordination or other causes.

The international meetings take place once a year, where all parties are present. At these assemblies, members of the international executive board can issue a strike or suggest changes to the union with two-thirds consent from all other delegates.

Industries

Coal miners

Clean coal technicians

Health care workers

Truck drivers

Manufacturing workers


Key Officers

umwa_cecilrobertsCecil E. Roberts, President

Cecil E. Roberts became President of the UMWA on October 22, 1995. After military service in Vietnam and attending college, Roberts worked for six years at Carbon Fuels’ No. 31 mine in Winifred, West Virginia, where he was a local union officer.  In 1977, he was elected Vice President of UMWA District 17. In May 1981, he was reelected without opposition.

On November 9, 1982, Roberts was elected Vice President of the UMWA International Union.  He was reelected without opposition five years later.

In 1989, Roberts was the on-the-scene leader, often referred to as field general, and day-to-day negotiator in the UMWA’s militant 10-month strike against the Pittston Company. , Roberts received the Rainbow Coalition’s Martin Luther King award as well as awards from Citizen Action and the Midwest Academy for his role in the successful strike.

On November 10, 1992, Roberts was reelected by an 80-percent margin to his third term as Vice President.

In December 1995, Roberts assumed the UMWA Presidency upon the resignation of Richard Trumka.  In 1996, he reopened the UMWA’s National Agreement for the first time in the union’s history and made significant improvements to the wage agreement.

In August 1997, Roberts was formally elected to the Presidency of the UMWA. In 1998, he negotiated a new National Agreement that was ratified by the highest percentage in the Union’s history.  The agreement included a historic 20-year and out pension provision.

In July of 2001, he became a member of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council.  He serves on the Civil and Human Rights Committee, Labor and the Environment Committee, Manufacturing and Industrial Committee, Safety and Occupational Health Committee, Senior Action Committee Strategic Approaches Committee, Political Education Committee, and Article XX Appeals Committee. In October of 2005, he was appointed to the Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council.

In 2000, he was reelected as President of the United Mine Workers of America. In 2004, he became the first President in the history of the United Mine Workers of America to be elected by acclamation by the membership for three consecutive terms.

At the end of 2008, he became the 2nd longest standing President of the UMWA, second only to John L. Lewis. In August 2009, Roberts was once again re-elected by acclamation to his fourth full term as International President.

 

umwa_danielkaneDaniel J Kane, International Secretary-Treasurer

Daniel J. Kane was sworn in as the Secretary-Treasurer of the UMWA on August 20, 2004. Kane had previously served as International Executive Board member, representing UMWA District 2 since 1985.

In 1971, he went to work at the R.G. Johnson Company as a mine construction worker, classified as a drill runner and lead miner. At R.G. Johnson, he was a member of UMWA Local Union 1634 and served as a project Safety Committee member.

In 1975, Kane went to work at the BethEnergy Mine #33. As an active member of Local Union 1368 from 1975-1985, he was elected by his fellow union members to several Local Union offices, including Local Union President, Recording Secretary, COMPAC Committee, Election Teller and Delegate to several District and International Conventions.

In 1985, the members of District 2 elected Kane to be their International Executive Board (IEB) member, a position he held until becoming International Secretary Treasurer. While an IEB member, Kane negotiated collective bargaining agreements with coal and non-coal employers, worked with the UMWA’s Department of Occupational Health and Safety to reform Pennsylvania’s mining laws, served as the COMPAC coordinator for the state of Pennsylvania, and was the Union’s lobbyist in Harrisburg. Kane was also the Selective Strike Coordinator for several selective strikes in both the anthracite and bituminous coalfields.

Kane also worked to organize workers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, served on the COMPAC Executive Council and was a member of the Standing Committee on the Constitution and By-Laws. In August 2009, Kane was elected by acclamation to his second term as International Secretary-Treasurer.

 

Green Contacts

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Eugene M. Trisko, Attorney at Law, is not a UMWA member, but he has represented the UMWA in multiple cases and testimonies. He has participated on behalf of the UMWA in all major United Nations climate change negotiating sessions since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

P.O. Box 596 Berkeley Springs, WV 25411 (304) 258-1977
(301) 639-5238 (Cell) emtrisko@earthlink.net

 

 

Sustainability Profile

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The United States is in an era of conflict over the future role of coal in its energy system. This conflict is already well under way at the levels of national and state policies and in local communities and regions around the country.

Coal miners and their communities are particularly at risk of being left behind in the transition away from coal. In a September 2008 op-ed, UMWA President Cecil Roberts cited a study showing that the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 would have reduced coal production by 78 percent by 2025, which would have “just about wiped out the coal industry in southern West Virginia and elsewhere in Appalachia.” He added that the 2007 Lieberman-McCain bill would have cut Appalachian coal production by 30 percent or more.

The UMWA has chosen to take an active political stance to deal with the “threat” of environmental policies to its membership. The union has not only formed a political action committee, the COMPAC, but it also testifies regularly before Congress.  In the UMWA testimony on climate legislation in 2009 the mineworkers “[recognized] that climate change legislation poses the greatest threat to its membership and to the continued use of coal.” As a result, the union advocated for legislation that would include “language that calls for support of the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.”

The following year, the union used CCS technology as its basis for challenging the Clean Air Act. “We regard the Clean Air Act as unsuited to providing the technology incentives needed to advance carbon capture and storage and other advanced clean energy technologies that our nation will need to combat climate change,” said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts.

Notably, this testimony and the UMWA’s 2010 testimony establish that the union is not a climate change denier, but rather, is concerned for the longevity of its members’ jobs. CCS technology is an attractive climate change solution with potential for job creation. In a 2009 press conference, the UMWA cited a “new economic study that demonstrates how deployment of advanced coal-based electricity generation facilities
(power plants) equipped with carbon capture and storage
technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions could generate $1 trillion of economic output and create 7
million man-years of employment.” Some environmentalists would argue the union’s efforts to reduce climate change are limited by its means.   

Recently, the UMWA’s efforts to overturn other coal-threatening legislation have escalated.  In an April 2012 interview with the West Virginia radio show MetroNews Talkline, President Cecil Roberts employed militaristic rhetoric to attack the EPA. “The Navy SEALs shot Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington,” said Roberts.

According to The Hill, “Roberts blasted Jackson, the EPA administrator, over the proposed regulations, which would limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Opponents of the regulations, including Roberts, say the new rules would be the death knell of the coal industry.”  The new regulations would limit fossil fuel plants to the emission of no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt‐hour.

“New coal-fired power plants would have to install technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions in order to comply with the rules. The technology, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), “is not commercially available,” Roberts said.

The Mine Workers have also become involved in the fracking industry. While the union has shown concern for fracking methods, its stated concern is for safety rather than the environment.

The UMWA’s current political battle currently revolves around its right to export coal. The following excerpt from an UMWA interview with IrishCentral embodies a tendency of the coal industry to demonize environmentalists.

But environmentalists are even trying to stop exporting of coal from our nations seaports. As if, not wounding the industry is enough, they try to kick it while it’s down.   I asked Phil what UMWA is prepared to do about this and he said: “It would be a very difficult time for environmentalists to try and block the commerce of a legal product.”  I would take from the determination in his voice and the emphasis on the legality of commerce in the US, that his organization and the industry itself are ready to battle over this.

Green Employment Prospects

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Environmentalists are struggling to convince unions like the UMWA that just transitions for their workers are not only out there, but they’re worth it.

The campaigns to transition away from coal have already stopped the building of more than 150 new coal plants. As of 2012 not a single new coal plant has broken ground in two years. Only a few states—notably Kentucky, Georgia, and Texas—are even considering building new coal plants.

Additional Comments or Analysis

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The current campaign to reduce the use of coal could easily become a poster child for the threat posed to workers by climate protection. But, for that very reason it also provides an opportunity for climate protection advocates to paint a picture of themselves as the advocates and protectors of miners, railroad workers, utility workers and others whose jobs and communities may be threatened by climate protection measures.

Green jobs can be targeted at the communities that will be affected by coal production to create local jobs that will provide an alternative source of employment. The statewide network, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, has spelled out some of the clean energy solutions; read the details here. The excerpt below describes their beliefs:

A just transition from coal to renewables requires that the federal government support and protect coal industry workers as coal-fired power stations are phased out. Government support should include providing investment in new industries and infrastructure, guaranteeing jobs and retraining workers so that they can find employment in new green industries. With the right government action, an energy revolution can provide a way forward for coal communities.

Coal transition advocates should insist that the cost of transitioning to clean energy should not be borne by workers who, through no fault of their own, depend for their livelihoods on facilities that society decides to phase out. Meeting the legitimate needs of those workers should be part of the policy proposals coal transition advocates fight for.

 

Appendixes

Appendix 1: International Executive Board: International District Vice Presidents

 

 

 

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