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UMW Offers New Contract Proposal But Talks Recessed

July 21, 1989

DUFFIELD, Va. (AP) _ United Mine Workers presented a proposal Friday to resolve its 3 -month-old strike against Pittston Coal Group Inc., but no agreement was reached and the two sides decided to recess.

″It appears there is nothing new in it,″ Pittston spokeswoman Susan Copeland said Friday. The company will respond to the proposal next week, she said.

Each side said the other asked for a recess until Tuesday.

″It’s really frustrating,″ said Bruce Bratten, administrative assistant to UMW vice president Cecil Roberts. ″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.″

A four-person negotiating team from the union and Pittston vice president Joe Farrell spent the day meeting in separate rooms and federal mediators shuttled proposals back and forth. Negotiations began about 10:30 a.m. and were recessed just after 3 p.m., Bratten said.

The union presented two proposals, Bratten said. One was a formal request that the two sides meet face to face.

The other proposal would address Pittston’s need for miners to work Sundays if Pittston would consider the miners’ need for job security, Bratten said. He refused to go into specifics.

″I don’t know how long this is going to take,″ Bratten said. ″We’re not that encouraged by their good faith and sincerity in trying to resolve it.″

The union also wants assurances from Pittston that if new mines are opened, the jobs will go to some of the approximately 4,000 Pittston employees who have been laid off, he said.

The UMW was disappointed that Paul Douglas, Pittston’s chairman, was not at Friday’s negotiations, Bratten said. While UMW President Richard Trumka was not in the meeting room, he was present at the hotel, Bratten said.

″I don’t think anyone expected anything to come out of this to begin with,″ said Bo Givens, a UMW representative for District 28. ″Most of the guys you talk to say Pittston only went to the table because of (U.S. District) Judge (Glen M.) Williams’ order″ to resume negotiations.

In his letter last week to Trumka and Douglas, Williams challenged the two sides to show up.

Meantime, state police said Friday that a state trooper fired in self- defense at a group of people throwing rocks. State police spokesman Charles Vaughan said none of the alleged rock throwers was hurt in Thurdsay’s incident, that occurred while the cruiser was following several coal trucks.

Authorities said 42 people were charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and were released on $5,000 bond Friday.

By the time state trooper C.L. Helmer fired the shot, Trooper D.W. Wyatt ″had already been hit a number of times and sustained a number of cuts and bruises on his arm,″ Vaughan said. Firing a shot is acceptable ″if you feel your life is in danger,″ Vaughan said.

Of the 42 people charged, 39 were from Ohio, two were from West Virginia and one was from Virginia, Vaughan said. He did not know whether they were striking miners, he said.

The union has charged that Pittston hasn’t bargained in good faith and the company’s proposals would undermine UMW members’ job security and hopes of future coal employment.

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