The new contract between the UMWA and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA) was voted upon with 60.3% of its membership in favor. It extends from August 15 to December 31, 2021; the group’s current CBA was to expire at the end of this year.

Included in the agreement are union members of the Ohio County Coal Co., which operates the Ohio County mine; the Marshall County Coal Co., which operates the Marshall County mine; the Marion County Coal Co., which operates the Marion County mine; the Harrison County Coal Co., which operates the Harrison County mine; and the Monongalia County Coal Co., which operates the Monongalia County mine.

The group had turned down a previous contract proposal on June 28, though no details of it were released. The new agreement maintains wages at their current levels but also provides for additional negotiations after three years. While active and retired members will have an increase in out-of-pocket health care costs, there will be no monthly premiums. The UMWA also said workers’ total days off yearly will initially be reduced, but some of those days are regained over the contract’s lifespan.

Murray Energy will also remain in the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan.

“This is a good day for Murray American’s UMWA-represented employees, as this agreement will go a long way toward ensuring that our coal mines can keep operating, and our employees working, even in the current depressed coal marketplace,” company CEO and BCOA Chairman Robert E. Murray said.

“This was a tough vote for our members to take,” UMWA International President Cecil Roberts said. “The coal industry is in a depression and more than 50 companies have filed for bankruptcy in the last few years. Thousands have been laid off. The pressures on those who are still working are tremendous and growing.

“But despite all that, our members took a courageous stand by voting to try to keep their company operating while maintaining the best wages, benefits and working conditions in the American coal industry.”