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Federal Marshals Intervene In Coal Dispute

January 25, 1990

DEHUE, W.Va. (AP) _ Non-union coal operators drove trucks through a human barricade Wednesday after federal marshals ordered tow trucks to haul away vehicles blocking a coal company’s private road.

No one was injured when the three coal trucks, with steel plates protecting their radiators, crossed a makeshift bridge leading to the Rum Creek Coal Sales Inc. preparation plant. A female picket, however, was shoved by a federal marshal escorting the plant’s contractor and was taken away by ambulance.

U.S. District Judge Dennis Knapp last week issued an injunction barring United Mine Workers pickets from blocking the road leading to the plant and limiting the number of pickets at the site to 15. Two union members arrested for allegedly violating the order appeared in court Wednesday.

The contractor, Mike Holbrook, was called to use a cutting torch to slice through a cable that attached a car to the private bridge.

Holbrook, wearing a blue baseball hat reading ″Scab 1,″ withstood taunts and insults while cutting the cable in front of about 75 UMW members and supporters.

About two dozen union miners struck in mid-August after Rum Creek, a subsidiary of the A.T. Massey Coal Co., hired a non-union contractor to run the plant.

It was the third day of unrest at the bridge. Six people were arrested Tuesday after coal trucks plowed through vehicle barricades. Two women were injured in similar incidents Monday.

Three cars were on the bridge at sunrise Wednesday when federal marshals arrived accompanied by tow trucks. Two four-wheel-drive vehicles were removed without trouble, and marshals escorted Holbrook to the bridge to free the car. After the vehicles were removed, non-union coal trucks slowly pushed their way past miners in the road.

Later, the non-union operators left their coal trucks inside the preparation plant and left the site in four-wheel-drive vehicles with plexiglass protecting the windows.

When Holbrook was escorted through a group of miners to a waiting van, a marshal knocked over the picket, Cora Ballard, who is in her late 40s.

″What did she do to you? What did she deserve to get hit?″ said Kimberly Goodman, Ballard’s daughter. ″She was just standing and you had to hit her.″

″All she was trying to do was stand up for her man’s job,″ said Kathy Justice, the wife of a miner.

Ballard suffered bruises on both arms and hit her head when she fell, and was treated at Logan General Hospital and released, said her brother, John Workman.

About 18 West Virginia State Police troopers, who are barred by state law from taking sides in labor disputes, watched from the side.

Howard Green, a UMW international executive board member, and Bernard Evans, a union strike coordinator, appeared Wednesday before Judge Knapp and were freed on $10,000 bail each. They were arrested Tuesday for violating the judge’s order.

Three men arrested Tuesday after allegedly plowing through the picket line in non-union coal trucks were released on bail Wednesday, according to Logan County Magistrate Court assistant Tammy Hall. One of the men pleaded innocent to attempted murder, he added.

Rum Creek Coal Sales President Richard Zigmond swore out 90 new complaints Wednesday seeking the arrest of pickets for trespassing and parking other vehicles on private property, Hall said. Arrests on those warrants are expected Thursday, she said.

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