Letter to the Editor: Companies version of events
This letter concerns the article that ran in the Sun Advocate Sept. 25 titled "Co-Op miners walk off job, participate in UMWA ralley at Price" and subsequent activities in the Emery County area since it appeared.
On Sept. 14, 2003, a CW Mining Company employee falsified his safety/inspection checklist. When this came to management's attention, the employee was given a written warning. When the employee refused to acknowledge the written warning, the employee was given a three day suspension with the intent to discharge, for just cause, with the right to appeal. An employee became upset and called all employees off shift to protest. Some of the employees refused to participate in the protest and were threatened by the protesters. The company called the sheriff.
The employees were asked to return to work or go home. They were not fired. Some of the employees quit. They did not call or return to work. Some called and said they were afraid to return because of threats made by the protesters. There were no attacks by the company. The only individual fired was the one that falsified his safety/inspection checklist.
CW Mining Company has a policy and procedure leaflet that covers all of these situations. Employees have full access to this leaflet.
Following is a response to the list of accusations made by the UMWA.
"Workers have been locked out because of union activity."
Fact. The company gate has not been locked except for security when mine is not operating. No employee has ever been locked out from his/her shift.
"Workers are forced to work with injuries without access to worker's compensation."
Fact. The company complies with state laws and all employees are covered by worker's compensation.
"Bosses abuse and mistreat workers."
Fact. There has been no abuse of any employee.
"Workers are forced to work under unsafe conditions in violation of MSHA law."
Fact. The company endeavors to maintain a safe workplace. As in this case, an employee may be disciplined for breaking safety rules, but never for reporting unsafe conditions, or refusing to work in them. The mine is regularly inspected by MSHA.
"Workers are forced to use defective and unsafe machinery and man trips."
Fact. The company requires the equipment operator to perform a pre-operational check prior to operating any equipment. Equipment is inspected regularly by the company and by MSHA. If any of it is defective, it is taken out of service and locked out until it can be fixed.
"Workers forced to work arbitrary shifts."
Fact. Shifts are posted ahead of time. Employees have advance notice of shifts.
"Workers do not have medical insurance to speak of and no retirement benefits."
Fact. The company offers medical insurance to all employees.
"There is no bathhouse for the female workers."
Fact. Female workers have been offered alternative shower facilities. There are rest rooms facilities.
"Company does not provide necessary tools without discounting money from the worker's pay."
Fact. The Company issues tools without charge. Employees are charged for the tools they lose or cannot account for.
"The company promotes safety violations by refusing to punish the bosses that break them."
Fact. Bosses are disciplined if they are found violating company policies and MSHA law, and in some cases, suspended from work without pay.
11. "Wages are unfair, ranging from $5.25 to $7 per hour."
Fact. The Company has incentive pay in addition to the actual base pay. The combined pay ranges from $5.50 to $20 per hour. The $5.50 is for the lowest level of unskilled worker with no previous mine experience. This lowest pay is for up to 90 days probationary employment, after which they are raised if they continue to work.
12. "Company does not provide adequate training for its employees."
Fact. All employees are given the standard MSHA safety training by an MSHA approved trainer before they are put to work. Those who speak only Spanish are trained by a Spanish speaking approved trainer. CW Mining Company has a 'ladder' of employee levels of skill and experience. An employee receives on-the-job training for the position in which he is seeking advancement. When an employee is ready to be advanced, he/she is given a 15,30 and 60 day assessment for the advanced position. If they qualify, they are moved to a higher pay scale.
13. "All workers and democratic minded people"
Fact One of our employees carried a Company letter to a UMWA rally in Price stating that they were not fired but needed to call or return within three days or the company would have to assume they had quit. After reading the company statement, the UMWA rep refused to allow it to be read. He stated to the employee that the company's statement would cause a division in the group of employees protesting.