The United Mine Workers of America are celebrating a small victory after labor leaders significantly slashed a July order instructing them to pay more than $13 million to Warrior Met Coal.

As the Tuscaloosa Thread has previously reported, nearly 1,000 coal miners have been on strike at Warrior Met Coal since last April over the company's allegedly broken promises to improve salaries, policies governing attendance, insurance plans and more.

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Tensions have boiled over several times during the 17-month strike, and both sides have accused each other of foul play including assault and property damage.

Earlier this year, Warrior Met Coal asked the National Labor Relations Board to hold UMWA liable for damages the company has incurred because of the strike, which the union was ready to do in order to avoid another drawn-out legal battle with the company.

Union President Cecil Roberts said the UMWA was originally told to expect to pay around $400,000 in damages and was shocked when the NLRB ordered them to pay Warrior Met Coal $13.3 million. 

Roberts and the union vowed to fight the order, which they said "effectively negated workers' right to strike."

“It appears that Warrior Met wants us to reimburse it for those costs, including costs it incurred before the strike even began. What’s extremely troubling here is that the NLRB appears to have taken up the company’s cause without a second thought," Roberts said. “I want to be clear: Warrior Met Coal instigated this strike and has brutally extended it through its sustained unwillingness to reach a fair and reasonable agreement at the bargaining table. We have no intention of paying its costs for doing so. The right to strike in America must be preserved. We will fight this at every level, in every court. We will spend every penny of our resources rather than give in to something like this from the NLRB, Warrior Met or any other entity.”

It appears those efforts paid off, as the union said in a Monday morning press release that the NLRB has slashed more than 96 percent off the amount they originally ordered UMWA to pay Warrior Met.

The revised damages calculation comes to about $435,000 plus interest, Roberts said in a release.

“We appreciate that NLRB Region 10 took another look at the damages it had initially assessed and recognized that the number should be in line with what Region 10 had initially indicated would be charged. This recalculation, which comes to about $435,000 plus interest, conforms to the number we had been told we would be charged," Roberts said in the press release. “We are ready to pay that amount, put this behind us and negotiate a fair and reasonable contract with Warrior Met Coal that will settle this strike. Let’s get this done.”

Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for more updates on the strike as they develop.

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