Veterans Arrested at Mineworkers Strike
10 Vet union leaders arrested blocking scabs from leaving mine, workers at 2 months strike
For nearly two months, workers at the WarriorMet mines have been on strike. The 1,000 workers are some of the lowest-paid miners in the area. They routinely work 6 days a week often putting in over 80 hours in a single week.
During the last contract, the union took significant cuts due to the company going through bankruptcy. However, over the last few years, WarriorMet has become profitable once again and the workers want a contract that restores the cuts. Of course, the company is refusing and instead has played hardball with the striking workers.
As UCOMM previously reported, this weekend The Valley Labor Report held a fundraiser for the union’s strike fund to allow these union families to continue to walk the picket line. That fundraiser raised over $70,000.
On Tuesday, Union Veterans Council President Will Attig and United Mineworkers of America (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts joined eight other mineworker members in taking part in a civil disobedience action outside of a WarriorMet mine in Bessemer, Alabama. About 300 workers marched from a local church to the entrance of mine #7 where they proceeded to block the entrance and prevent the scabs that the company had hired from leaving the mine. The police eventually came in, cuffing the 10 people and dragging them off to the Tuscaloosa County jail.
“It is ridiculous how they are treating these mineworkers,” said Attig. “These companies go bankrupt on Friday and turn the lights off on Friday and reopen as a new company on Monday. The workers lose their contracts and have no protections from NLRB.”
UCOMM spoke with Attig before the rally and he said he was motivated to fly to Alabama from Washington D.C. because he wanted to support middle-class workers who are standing up for their rights, who are seeing that they have been lied to for years and are learning that the only way that we can achieve something in this country is by collective action.
“This is not about showing up for me but for these miners,” said Attig. “Once you fight for one group you are fighting for everyone in this position. There is nothing more important than fighting for wages, time off, and healthcare. People are putting their lives on the line for their neighbors and their communities. I hope my small example leads to more people coming down and taking actions and standing up for themselves and that it starts with unions. The American worker has the power.”
Attig was joined at the rally by a number of Vietnam veterans who are mineworkers who drove down from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to support the strikers. Attig and the veterans are visiting a number of picket lines throughout the state to lend their support for the strike and let the mineworkers know that they are not alone in this struggle and that other union members have their backs.