Coal Tattoo

Running Right: Alpha and unions

Here’s a new story out from the AP’s Vicki Smith:

The United Mine Workers says a notice the new owners posted at a West Virginia mine where 29 men died in an explosion last year is a standard industry tactic aimed at discouraging attempts to unionize.

Spokesman Phil Smith says the union knows about the memo that Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources posted at the Upper Big Branch mine the day it bought Massey Energy.

The independent Mine Safety and Health News obtained it and posted the text online Tuesday.

It says signing a union authorization card is like signing a blank check and reminds workers they can refuse. It also promises the company will listen to workers’ concerns.

Alpha spokesman Ted Pile says it’s not unusual for mine management to post policies informing workers of their rights under labor laws.

This Alpha memo was first reported by my friend Ellen Smith at Mine Safety and Health News on Facebook. Here’s the entire memo, as quoted by Ellen:


Unions do not provide jobs nor ensure job security. They never have and they never will. Only successful companies like ours will do that for you.

We urge you to never sign a “Union Authorization Card” a legal document that gives the union the exclusive right to act on your behalf.

Signing a Union Authorization Card is like signing a blank check. You will not know what it is going to cost you or your family in the future.

You have a right Guaranteed by Federal Law to Refuse to sign a Union Card. If anyone ever asks you to sign such a card you have the right to refuse to sign it. All you have to do is say NO.

UNIONS are a business. They need monthly dues and assessments from employees to survive.

We believe you need to keep all of your take home pay and not share it with any union for costly union fees, union dues, union accessements or fines. You should keep your hard earned money for yourself and your family.

We pledge to keep our lines of communication open for you to talk to your immediate supervisor, Superintendent, or the Company President anytime you feel the need to express a complaint, gripe, or concern about a problem or need a question answered.

UPDATED: There’s a longer version of Vicki’s AP story posted here.