In May and June, Murray Energy issued three layoff notices alerting workers in Eastern Ohio and West Virginia of mass impending layoffs. These terminations were expected to take place on June 17, though ultimately none occurred, according to United Mine Workers of America Director of Communications and Governmental Affairs Phil Smith.
Murray Energy is the largest privately held coal producer in the United States with 15 active mines, 10 coal transloading facilities, and 5 mining and equipment factory and fabrication facilities. Murray filed for bankruptcy in October 2019 due to outstanding debt and declining demand for coal.
On June 26, Murray Energy issued a third WARN notice. According to a press release from the United Mine Workers of America, this latest notice is a result of a date change for the completion of the bankruptcy. Murray must issue a new WARN Act notice, which the federal government requires at least 60 days before a possible mass layoff, each time the projected date of completion for bankruptcy proceedings changes. A new company will be taking over the mines and has already agreed to rehire the unionized Murray Energy miners.
“The new owners will immediately rehire the employees, but since they will technically be transferring to a new employer, Murray Energy is required under the WARN Act to issue a notice,” said UMWA International President Cecil Roberts in a statement. “I do not anticipate any layoffs of UMWA members as a result of this WARN Act notice or change of ownership.”
Phil Smith with the UMWA told Appalachian Voices that he is unsure whether non-unionized workers will be rehired. – By Emerson Wells