Striking coal miners of Alabama’s Warrior Met Mines, who were staging a protest in New York, was arrested for disorderly conduct on Thursday, November 4. Among the seven arrested was United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts.
1,100 coal miners, all members of the UMWA, have been on strike for over eight months at the Warrior Met Mines in Brookwood, Alabama. The miners continue to up the ante in their struggle for better pay and benefits, going “One day longer, one day stronger” against vehicular attacks, company lawfare, and arrests. On Thursday, for the third time since the start of the strike, the workers took their picket line to the New York City headquarters of the multi-trillion dollar investment firm BlackRock, which is Warrior Met’s largest shareholder.
The seven workers, who were arrested for the sit-in, will need to return to New York later this month to appear in court.
Six @MineWorkers were arrested after obstructing traffic in front of #BlackRock
Demonstrators call for an end to union busting tactics and want to negotiate fair contracts #MinersAgainstBlackRock #UMWA #Union pic.twitter.com/3MAvnGkjci
— Karla (@KarlaCotePhoto) November 4, 2021
Before his arrest, Roberts said at the mic outside BlackRock, “It’s time, brothers and sisters, for this company right here, that owns 14% of Warrior Met, to tell them to get back to the bargaining table and negotiate a contract!”
The workers are demanding an end to pay cuts and the company’s “four strike” disciplinary policy, as well as affordable healthcare costs and more paid holidays. In their last contract, which expired April 1, the miners accepted a USD 6 an hour pay cut and sacrificed other benefits to help the company get back on track after it went bankrupt in 2016. Throughout the pandemic, they worked to increase production and earn the company record profits. All the while, Warrior Met has refused to give workers a fair cut.
Warrior Met has gone to great lengths to stop the miners from exercising their right to protest. Most recently, a local Circuit court judge in Alabama issued a temporary restraining order against the strikers. This comes after months of Warrior Met attempting to use legal measures to force the miners off the picket lines.
The workers have faced physical attacks too. Starting in June, several strikers and picketers were injured in a series of vehicular attacks. The workers said these were carried out by Warrior Met employees. So far, not a single Warrior Met employee has been arrested or charged for these crimes.
Striker and 16-year veteran of the mines Michael Wright spoke to BreakThrough News during the first weekend of the strike on how unity is key to winning. His words ring even louder eight months into the strike now, “They’ve tried all kinds of things to bust this union up. This is a brotherhood. We’re here to stay.”
Monica Cruz is a reporter with US-based media outlet Breakthrough News.