Brookwood miners rally with thousands Wednesday

Brookwood Miners00000000

Striking miners from Brookwood put on their biggest rally yet Wednesday, protesting against what they say are unfair wages and a lack of benefits.

Nearly 1,000 United Mine Workers of America members from Warrior Met Coal in Brookwood have been on strike now for four months.

“Five years ago, Jim Walker Resources went through bankruptcy,” said District 20 UMWA Representative James Blankenship. “Warrior Met came in and bought them out.”

In the buyout, employees took at $6 per hour pay cut, lost holidays, lost vacation time and lost insurance benefits, Blankenship said.

“We are just asking for some of it back,” he said. “Give us some dignity. Give us something where we can feel like we are a part of the company.”

On Wednesday, they were joined by thousands of other union workers, even those in different lines of work, all standing in solidarity for fairer work wages and benefits.

“We are here together to support them and let them know that we are not going to let them walk away,” said Kentucky State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations President Bill Londrigan. “The labor movement and Workers of America are behind this group of workers who are struggling against a company that is interested in nothing but making profits on their backs.”

The rally was held at Brookwood Town Park, where local, regional, state and national UMWA officials delivered encouraging messages to the striking miners.

WVUA 23 spoke with several men who traveled from across the county to be in West Alabama in person.

“I went through the ’93 strike from May 10 until one week before Christmas in 1993,” former Illinois coal miner Bill Deeluka said. “It is not easy, but don’t ever give up.”

Oliver Smith from Kentucky said it’s important to support these workers.

“This is the middle class,” he said. “We are dying out there. The people of Tuscaloosa and Alabama, please stand behind these people.”

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