WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 17, 2022) — The AFL-CIO Executive Council issued the following statements Wednesday:
As we approach the one-year strike anniversary, the brave and dedicated workers at Warrior Met, who have made the company millions in profits, continue their fight for a fair contract. The workers and families at Warrior Met made major sacrifices to save the company, even as executives took bonuses. The miners gave up wages, health care benefits, pensions and more to allow Warrior Met Coal to emerge from bankruptcy in 2016.
Since then Warrior Met has been extremely profitable, paying shareholders $852 million in dividends, paying a special cash dividend of $190 million and compensating CEO Walter Scheller with more than $17 million.
Yet the rank-and-file workers have struggled to make ends meet. Since the bankruptcy, Warrior Met Coal has: cut the hourly wages of the miners by more than 20%; replaced the defined-benefit pension plan with a 401(k) plan; shifted health care costs onto active employees; cut the health care benefits of 2,500 retirees; and told the miners to work up to 16-hour shifts with few days off and only three paid holidays a year that can be taken only on the days they actually occur.
Every day, UMWA members are out on the strike line fighting for the livelihoods of their families and communities. This strike is about respect, dignity and the fundamental rights of working people. This strike is also about communities. UMWA miners support every local shop, store, restaurant and small business, as well as the people who make those businesses run. UMWA members are the community.
We want companies like Warrior Met to be successful, but not without fairness or valuing the most important part of the equation—working people. Our strength is our solidarity. The 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO offer our unwavering support to the striking workers. #WeAreOne, and will always have their backs.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council reaffirmed a commitment to support striking workers everywhere in their fights for respect, and the wages, benefits and health and safety protections they deserve. Executive Council members commit to show up, collaborate and share resources to wield the full power of the labor movement anywhere workers are standing up for our rights at work.
Today, we stand with members of the Mine Workers (UMWA) at Warrior Met who have been on strike for nearly a year, the Minneapolis teachers and professional staff who recently walked out for safe, stable schools, and all the other workers standing up together for justice at work.
The 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO offer our unwavering support to the striking workers. We will always have their backs.
On Wednesday, the AFL-CIO Executive Council also issued statements on the service of Tefere Gebre and recognizing the achievements of the Union Veterans Council and designating it a constituency organization of the AFL-CIO.