Judge orders striking coal miners to stop picketing
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A judge on Wednesday ordered striking miners to stop picketing outside locations owned by a coal company in Alabama.
Circuit Judge James H. Roberts Jr. issued a restraining order prohibiting the union members from picketing and other activity within 300 yards (meters) of Warrior Met Coal’s mines and offices.
Miners have been on strike against Warrior Met Coal Inc. since early April, seeking contract improvements. Miners said they made sacrifices to save the company several years ago and want better pay and health benefits.
The restraining order comes after the company said Monday that the level of violence along picket lines had “reached a dangerous level over the last week.” United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts called the restraining order unconstitutional and said it will not break the strike.
“It contains provisions that are unconstitutional, and it reinforces the notion that Americans – at least in Alabama – are not free to enjoy their rights to free speech and free assembly,” the union president said.
Hundreds of union members from multiple states in August joined a rally to support the striking Alabama miners, vowing the judge’s order would not stop them.
“We remain ready to engage in serious and good-faith negotiations to resolve this dispute .... We are far stronger than the mere location of our picket lines,” he added.
In a statement, Warrior Met Coal said it is “focused on maintaining the safety of all employees and the community at large.”
Almost a dozen miners were arrested during a protest outside a mine in May and striking miners in June reported at least three instances of violence along picket lines.
Warrior Met Coal has also offered rewards for any information on damage to transmission and distribution equipment on their property.