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UMWA members react to judge’s restraining order

Warrior Met Coal union workers speaking out
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 8:15 PM CDT
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BROOKWOOD, Ala. (WBRC) - A Tuscaloosa County judge has issued a restraining order against picketers from the United Mine Workers of America at Warrior Met Coal.

The judge handed down the order Wednesday and now members of the union are speaking out.

In a three-page order, Circuit Judge James Roberts, Jr. prohibits picketing, or any other activity, within 300 yards of Warrior Met Coal’s 12 locations in Tuscaloosa County.

Workers at the mine have been on strike since April 1 when more than 1,000 people walked off the job saying their current contract is unfair.

International President for the union, Larry Spencer, said workers have made several concessions including loss of benefits, holidays, and insurance, in addition to a $6 pay cut.

Spencer said Warrior Met has become a very profitable company since 2016 when it took over the company when Walter Energy went bankrupt, and he wants workers to get what they’re owed.

But Spencer said it’s hard for picketers to make an impact with the restraining order and feels Judge Roberts has overstepped his boundaries.

“He’s tied our hand for freedom of speech. I mean…it’s a constitutional right, if a person’s taking your job, if you want to call them a scab, you call them a scab, and he’s took that away from us now. He’s also took our freedom of assembly away from us and…you know…I’m sure our legal team is going to challenge this,” Spencer said.

WBRC reached out to the Tuscaloosa courthouse to get a comment from Judge Roberts but was unable to get anyone.

In a statement, Warrior Met said: “The Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order following the increase in violations of the existing injunction and to stop the increase in picket line violence committed by UMWA leadership and members in recent weeks. The Company is focused on maintaining the safety of all employees and the community at large.”

The judge’s order stands until 5 p.m. on November 5, unless it gets extended.

Law enforcement will be involved to ensure the order is enforced.

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