I cannot understand why a corporation as successful as Energy West/PacifiCorp feels the need to take away the benefits of their mine employees and retirees. They are not losing money, in fact quite the opposite.
In the first six months of this year their net income was $326 million, up from $281 million at the end of June 2012. They have an operating revenue of $11.5 billion and their total assets are $52 billion. Coal production makes up 60.3 percent of their energy production.
In my opinion, it's nothing more than union busting.
I do not know why the unions have been given such a bad rap. Let me educate everyone on what unions have made possible including the eight hour workday, job safety laws, overtime pay, Medicare, Social Security, Civil rights protections and fair treatment for every worker.
The unions have made all of these things possible whether you are a union member or not.
I am the granddaughter, daughter, wife, mother-in-law and friend of a union coal miner. They are some of the hardest working people I knew and know now. I grew up in the coal country of the east. Growing up I listened to stories of how the coal companies mistreated their workers. The company owned your life. The store, doctors, your house. They kept you in debt to them. There was no paycheck. My father picked rocks from the coal at an early age to help his family survive.
I remember my dad walking many picket lines in the 1970s to fight for fairness in the workplace. They fought for the benefits that a coal miner has now. They fought for safer working conditions. They fought for the ability to come to the table and negotiate.
Energy West proposed a 30 cents per hour raise and want to cut their benefits to 70/30 or 80/20 they couldn't decide or they wouldn't say. Is that really a raise?
Nobody is asking for anything more than what we have earned and paid for. Energy West is certainly not in a financial crisis. When asked at the negotiations if they couldn't afford to pay the health benefits of their retirees they refused to answer. They also want to take the union appointed safety committee and replace it with a three person company appointed one.
Does this sound fair?
Coal is what has made Carbon and Emery counties what they are today. Miners are the backbone. If not for them there would be no power plants or truck drivers, no shops that supply or repair mine equipment and no stores for us all to shop in.
The next time you see a coal miner, thank him or her for their hard work.
To all the members of L.U. 1769, stand strong. Let's not move backward.