Photos: Alabama Union Miners Enter Fourth Month of Strike, Thousands Rally for Wages and Benefits

A retired member of UMWA listens intently to speakers rallying crowd support Brookwood, Alabama, Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
A retired member of UMWA listens intently to speakers rallying crowd support Brookwood, Alabama, Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

Some 2,000 coal miners and allies attended a rally in Brookwood, Alabama, Wednesday in support of local United Mine Workers members as they enter the fourth month of a strike over contract negotiations with Warrior Met Coal.

The strike, which began on April 1, 2021, came after miners working for the company based outside of Tuscaloosa voted against a proposed contract that workers felt did not address back pay and health care concerns.

According to a United Allied Workers press release, the local coal miners union had agreed to a 2016 pay cut as former owners of the mining operations went through a bankruptcy process, with the promise of being restored when the company sold. A group of hedge funds now owns Warrior Met Coal and in April, offered a contract that would restore pay rates to 2015 levels, but not offer back pay, despite the $3.4 billion in profits the UMWA says the company has made over the past five years.

“Look around, guys. This is what the union’s about,” Larry Spencer, vice president of UMWA’s International District 20, said during the rally. “We’re just asking for our fair share, is all we’re asking for. That’s it.”

The UWMA said in a press release union members from other parts of Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky also attended the event in support of the striking miners.

Below are images from Alabama-based photographer Quez Shipman of the UMWA event on August 4, 2021.

UMWA International President Cecil Roberts speaking to the crowd, "This is a righteous fight. This is a righteous strike!" Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
UMWA International President Cecil Roberts speaking to the crowd, “This is a righteous fight. This is a righteous strike!” Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

More than 2,000 people are estimated to have attended the rally in Brookwood, Alabama, Wednesday, including retired miners and other union workers from Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. Photo: Quez Shipman
More than 2,000 people are estimated to have attended the rally in Brookwood, Alabama, Wednesday, including retired miners and other union workers from Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. Photo: Quez Shipman

The 1,100 striking coal miners of Warrior Met Coal wore shirts saying "We are one," to the Brookwood event. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
The 1,100 striking coal miners of Warrior Met Coal wore shirts saying, “We are one,” to the Brookwood event. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

The UMWA estimates some 2,000 union minors and their allies attended the August Brookwood Park event, held near the headquarters of Warrior Met Coal. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
The UMWA estimates some 2,000 union minors and their allies attended the August Brookwood Park event, held near the headquarters of Warrior Met Coal. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

Among the UMWA miners in attendance, the union reported Retiree Local 2195 from Athens, Alabama, Local 1853 from Spring Hill, Tennessee and Local 862 from Louisville, Kentucky, also attended the Brookwood event on August 4, 2021. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
Among the UMWA miners in attendance, the union reported Retiree Local 2195 from Athens, Alabama, Local 1853 from Spring Hill, Tennessee and Local 862 from Louisville, Kentucky, also attended the Brookwood event on August 4, 2021. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

Union members brought their families to the event that marked the fourth month of a strike. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
Union members brought their families to the event that marked the fourth month of a strike. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

Members of UMWA and other labor advocates standing in agreement of the demands for better wages and benefits during the labor strike in Brookwood, Ala., Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
Members of UMWA and other labor advocates standing in agreement of the demands for better wages and benefits during the labor strike in Brookwood, Alabama, Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

Union retirees were among those who gathered at Brookwood Park. “This fight is about us all,” said Local 2195 Retiree Chair Charles McDonald,” Standing in solidarity is vital to protect the gains made by working people. We have to assist these brothers in sisters in their fight for justice.” Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
Union retirees were among those who gathered at Brookwood Park. “This fight is about us all,” said Local 2195 Retiree Chair Charles McDonald, ”Standing in solidarity is vital to protect the gains made by working people. We have to assist these brothers in sisters in their fight for justice.” Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

The UMWA strike includes workers from Warrior Met Coal’s facilities in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, including the No. 4 and No. 7 mines, a preparation plant and a central shop. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
The UMWA strike includes workers from Warrior Met Coal’s facilities in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, including the No. 4 and No. 7 mines, a preparation plant and a central shop. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

A UMWA speaker is joined on stage at Brookwood Park by members of the Communication Workers of America. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
A UMWA speaker is joined on stage at Brookwood Park by members of the Communication Workers of America. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
UMWA International President iCecil Roberts is known for his impassioned speeches like the one given in Brookwood. “We have begun the fifth month the miners at Warrior Met Coal have been striking for a fair and decent contract,” Roberts said in a statement before the rally. “We are not backing down. We are only getting stronger." Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
UMWA International President Cecil Roberts is known for his impassioned speeches like the one given in Brookwood. “We have begun the fifth month the miners at Warrior Met Coal have been striking for a fair and decent contract,” Roberts said in a statement before the rally. “We are not backing down. We are only getting stronger.” Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

Union allies travelled from across southern Appalachia to show support for the striking miners at the rally held outside of Tuscaloosa. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
Union allies travelled from across southern Appalachia to show support for the striking miners at the rally held outside of Tuscaloosa. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

The Brookwood Park event came about a week after union miners rallied outside BlackRock's headquarters in New York City. BlackRock is the largest shareholder in Warrior Met Coal. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
The Brookwood Park event came about a week after union miners rallied outside BlackRock’s headquarters in New York City. BlackRock is the largest shareholder in Warrior Met Coal. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

The union rejected a contract on April 1, 2021, that would have restored their current salaries to 2016 levels, but union leaders say they were also promised the back pay for five years of work at a reduced rate. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
The union rejected a contract on April 1, 2021, that would have restored their current salaries to 2016 levels, but union leaders say they were also promised the back pay for five years of work at a reduced rate. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

A member of the UMWA enjoys a Steel City popsicle during rally, passed out to help attendees deal with the summer heat. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
A member of the UMWA enjoys a Steel City popsicle during rally, passed out to help attendees deal with the summer heat. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia

Union leaders spoke at the Brookwood Park rally in favor of increased wages and health car benefits for coal miners of Warrior Met Coal. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
Union leaders spoke at the Brookwood Park rally in favor of increased wages and health care benefits for coal miners of Warrior Met Coal. Photo: Quez Shipman/100 Days in Appalachia
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