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UMW Official Says Union to Offer New Contract Proposal

July 22, 1989

DUFFIELD, Va. (AP) _ The Pittston Coal Group Inc. will respond next week to a United Mine Workers’ proposal for ending a 15-week strike, the company’s president says.

The union made two proposals Friday, said Bruce Bratten, an assistant to UMW vice president Cecil Roberts.

The union would try to address Pittston’s need for miners to work on Sundays if Pittston gives assurances that any new mines opened by the company will employ some of the 4,000 Pittston employees who have been laid off.

The second proposal was a request in writing that the two sides meet face to face. Negotiators have been meeting in separate rooms at a motel with federal mediators carrying messages back and forth.

Pittston Coal president Michael Odom said there was ″nothing new″ in the UMW proposal.

″It’s hardly a contract proposal,″ Odom said. ″If they want to play games, fine, but I thought we were going to see something of substance.″

But Odom said the company would give a definitive response next week.

A recess was agreed up for the talks until Tuesday, amid accusations of bad faith on both sides.

″It’s really frustrating,″ Bratten said. ″We came in here and stated we were willing to stay and continue this on. It’s hard to come to an agreement when you can’t get someone to sit at a table across from you.″

The union has charged that Pittston’s proposals would undermine UMW members’ job security and hopes of future coal employment.

UMW miners in Virginia and West Virginia struck Pittston on April 5 and the company’s Kentucky operations were struck in June. About 1,900 miners are on strike in the three states.

Thousands of others miners throughout the east joined in a monthlong wildcat strike that ended last week.

Meanwhile, 42 people were charged with conspiracy to commit a felony following a rock-throwing incident in Dickenson County, in southwest Virginia. Those charged allegedly pelted a state trooper with rocks.

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