WASHINGTON — The United Mine Workers and the Bituminous Coal Operators Assn. open negotiations today for a new national coal contract.
For the union, which has lost nearly one-third of its active membership since the last contract was negotiated in 1984, the key issue is job security. For the operators' association, whose membership has been devastated by a declining coal market, the goal is to reduce labor costs to compete with non-union mines.
The national coal agreement covers about 60,000 union members in more than a dozen states.