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HAVE NEVER REFUSED TO NEGOTIATE, MASSEY SAYS
Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
Published: Wednesday, June 12, 1985
Byline: DON MARSH
P7A E. Morgan Massey, president of A.T. Massey Coal Co., was interviewed Tuesday by Gazette Publisher W.E. Chilton III and Editor Don Marsh concerning the United Mine Workers' strike at Massey's mines.
CHILTON: In the interview that appeared in the Sunday Gazette-Mail recently, at one point you said that you will not sit down with them as long as there is violence. Shortly thereafter in the interview, you said that "we're prepared to negotiate with them at any stage." MASSEY: Well, we have been prepared to negotiate and have negotiated with them ever since the beginning. The reports have been really incorrect. We have never refused to negotiate with the union - even the first day of the strike. We have tried to get a contract, tried to get the negotiation going.
CHILTON: If that's true why not sit down now?
MASSEY: The issue of walking away from the bargaining table was to stop the violence. In other words, Mr. Trumka can turn the violence on; he can cut it off at will and he uses that as a bargaining tool.
CHILTON: Irrespective of that, on the one hand you're telling me, OK we'll bargain. On the other hand you're saying you won't bargain. You want it both ways and it doesn't seem to me that you can have it both ways. Either you sit at the table and bargain or / you're away from the table not bargaining. At the current time you're not bargaining and my question is, will you go back to the table and bargain?
MASSEY: We will go back the the table and bargain when the violence stops.
MARSH: Mr. Massey, how can you say that Trumka can start and stop the violence. You're accusing him of conspiracy to murder and being an accomplice to murder. How can you possibly say that Trumka is, as you said in the same interview that Ned mentioned, putting ski masks on people, arming them and sending them out to shoot people?
MASSEY: When Mr. Trumka had his press conference right here in Charleston he called on an escalation of the violence and sure enough, the next day, the violence started.
MARSH: He called on an escalation of demonstrations. That's been five months ago or six months ago. The actual kind of violence that you're talking about really started after Judge Maynard, at your request, fined the union and after he removed peaceful demonstrations that were mainly going on.
MASSEY: Well, the peaceful demonstrations were mostly a show for a period of one or two weeks there for the benefit of the press that was down there. Since then all of the other activities have been violent demonstrations with - pardon me for referring to notes but I can't remember all of it. But over the period of time, just at this one Rawl mine that we're talking about, there have been 370 coal truck and personal automobile windshields destroyed.
Another 82 other windows have been broken out of vehicles. Thirty-one coal trucks have been shot up; nine company vehicles have been destroyed by gunshot. Three company buildings, 15 homes have been shot into Fifteen personal injuries of a so-called minor nature and then another 20 personal injuries requiring extensive medical treatment and hospitalization over a period of time.
MARSH: Well, nobody has denied there's been violence in Mingo County, nobody has denied there's been violence on both sides.
The UMW has been attacked. But what I'm asking you, are you saying that Rich Trumka either has himself or has directed people to go down there and shoot up the coal trucks, shoot through the houses, shoot the truck drivers? Is that what you're saying - that Trumka himself is ordering that done or his agents are ordering that done?
MASSEY: These activities occur when his generals are in the field directing it. We've got hours of videotape showing the union, national headquarters, international headquarters, organizers involved with and directing these acts of violence that I've enumerated.
MARSH:I've seen pictures of those guards down there carrying what appears to be automatic weapons. We have a picture of the armored personnel carrier on your property. Are those the peaceful kind of things that Massey has _ MASSEY: I've heard a lot about these guards with automatic weapons. First of all an automatic weapon is against the law in the state of West Virginia.
MARSH: Guards carrying weapons is against the law I believe.
MASSEY: I would like to see a picture of one of our guards carrying a weapon at all now. Initially, they did carry a night stick.
These are trained security people who have had extensive training in riot control and peaceful control.
MARSH: Now, three of those guys got their General Equivalency Diplomas while at Moundsville. Ken Hechler found that out. So how can you say they're trained experts? Those guys went through vocational education while in the penitentiary.
MASSEY: We do not control who they employ. We have no control over who the security company employs and we don't have any knowledge of that.
CHILTON: Yes, but you said they were trained.
MASSEY: They were trained in crowd control. Again, let me say _ CHILTON: Where? - at Moundsville?
MASSEY: Over 1,000 or 2,000 rounds have been fired, by reasonable estimate, at the companies down in the Rawl area, but there has been no instance whatsoever of anyone of these security people ever firing a weapon, nor do they carry weapons.
MARSH: Well, what's that personnel carrier? I did see the picture, that was published, an inarguable picture of a personnel carrier.
MASSEY: That personnel carrier was supposed to be concealed from public view and that is when everything else fails, that is their means of escape. Now remember when Mr. Cecil Roberts, international vice president and Sheriff Harless of Boone County several years back lead the union march on the Elk Run Coal Company and burned down the buildings? In order for the people to escape massacre we had a helicopter standing by to evacuate the remaining Elk Run personnel when they were overrun in that case.
MARSH: It wasn't used was it?
MASSEY: No, in this case the personnel carrier has not been used, to my knowledge, for escape purposes.
MARSH: Well, the people at the Williamson Daily News, who I think have done a good job in a difficult situation, covering that strike, say that there's been any number of attacks on union personnel, on the wives and the children. The union shack has been shot into. Who's doing that? Is that the UMW doing it?
MASSEY: Let me quote your own newspaper here, an article from the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday, June 9, there's more than I want to count of incidents of violence from October 1 until June 3.
There's a whole page full of violent activities and of all of those that are listed there's only one case where a truck driver shot back MARSH: Well, are you saying that the fact that the Sunday.
Gazette-Mail didn't list more, that that's all that has happened?
In Mingo County there's just been one instance?
MASSEY: I think that that shows tremendous restraint on the part of industry. In no case do the employees of our company respond to violence with violence.
MARSH: Is it your belief that only in one instance, has any union sympathizer or member been attacked or shot at? That just happened one time?
MASSEY: I haven't kept any particular record of that, but the only instance that I know of is this one case reported where there was a claim that a truck driver shot back.
MARSH: Did you know about that before you read it in the paper ?
MASSEY: No, I didn't know about it.
MARSH: That was first time you learned of any kind of violence against the union side?
MASSEY: It's good business to instruct the people to do everything possible to not respond to violence with violence.
That is not the way you're going to solve the problem. The only way that you solve the violence is with law and order, with police protection, with the support of the citizens and certainly we are not going to gain in the support of citizens if we respond to violence with retaliation and recriminations.
CHILTON: I infer from your remarks that in Kentucky you have the support of the citizens, the fact that you're running non-union mines you are supported by the citizens. There seems to be some doubt that you have public support in West Virginia. In a sense you're rubbing their faces in it - you and your non-union activities. I'm not saying that you're violating the law. I'm not making that charge.
But I would make the charge that in the areas of West Virginia where you are operating, you're waving a red flag.
MASSEY: We are trying, have done everything possible to keep from getting in the forefront of this kind of activity and _ CHILTON: Well, you can say that by operating perfectly legally above board and everything else you're still inciting to riot.
You wash your hands of this whole thing. And, very frankly I don't think you can wash your hands because to begin with, and you've got to consider this, if you weren't doing what you're doing in Southern West Virginia that trucker would be alive today.
MASSEY: Well, let me say that if you respond with violence by rolling over and playing dead - sure that probably would stop the violence. The United Mine Workers has closed down six major coal mines that are subsidiaries of A.T. Massey, four of these in McDowell County and Wyoming County, one in Logan County and one in Pike County, Kentucky. Eleven hundred employees responded to that by tucking their tails between their legs and giving up. As a result those mines are closed. Some of those mines are filling up with water and those employees will never have a job again because their customers have left. It is only the Rawl mine _ CHILTON: Well, of course, if you had signed the contract, if you had continued to sit at the table, it is conceivable that that man wouldn't have been killed.
MASSEY: These mines have been trying to sign a contract with the union since October 1, 1984. And it is because the United Mine Workers, going back to way before October 1st when the United Mine Workers had its convention and Mr. Trumka asked his membership for the strike fund. The purpose of that strike fund was to get A.T. Massey Coal Company. We were picked out and selected as a target.
We were to be punished.
CHILTON: Now wait a minute. Are you saying that you can't sign the same contract that the other big companies have signed?
Trumka is somehow singling you out? There are other fairly large coal companies involved. I realize that Royal Dutch Shell, whose assets no one really knows, is one of the most secretive companies in the world. But it also is one of the largest. Probably ranks second only to Exxon.
Are you saying that you can't sign the contract, that these other companies can sign?
MASSEY: The Rawl group of companies that are on strike now offered to sign the contract on day one, on day 21 and day 31..
They in fact even offered the contract plus an extra benefit.
Trumka would not sign the contract with Rawl because he wanted to get to A. T. Massey Coal Company, the parent company.
CHILTON: I infer from your comments that Trumka is holding forth one type of contract to you and another type to the other companies which signed. Is that correct?
MASSEY: Initially, yes. He was going to penalize A.T. Massey Coal Company and its subsidiaries and originally his reasons for doing that was the fact that several of these companies dropped out of the Bituminous Coal Operators.
CHILTON: I'm not a lawyer but I've done a little bit of labor negotiations: you in effect are charging Trumka with illegal bargaining. Am I incorrect on that?
MASSEY: I don't believe we've charged him with unfair labor practice in that regard. Again, the question has come, does A.T. .
Massey Coal Company bargain with the union? A.T. Massey Coal Company has been in business since 1916. We have never been a coal mining company; our parent company has never been a coal mining company; it's never employed coal miners; it's never been asked to sign a contract by Mr. Lewis, by Mr. Boyle, by Mr. Sam Church, and historically and traditionally the union has always accepted as signators to the contract those individual corporations in West Virginia and Kentucky that were independently organized under the laws of the state, that employed and managed the labor force.
And they have been the ones that signed the contract.
Mr. Trumka is trying to change all of that and is trying to hold that the parent company, A.T. Massey Coal Company, should sign a contract. He's not asking Du Pont to sign the contract for Consolidation Coal Company, he's not asking Occidental Petroleum Company to sign a contract for Occidental Coal Company but he's asking Massey Coal Company to sign a contract for Rawls Sales and Processing_ Royalty Smokeless Coal Company, Shannon, Pocahontas and the like.
MARSH: On the other hand what you're asking would be analogous to Consolidation Coal asking him to sign a separate contract with every mine it has. That would be his perspective on that.
MASSEY: We're not kidding anybody. What he is after is the preponderance of the subsidiary production of A.T. Massey Coal Company that has elected to operate without the interference of the United Mine Workers þ MARSH: Well, I accept that but why don't you accept the fact _ or state it publicly - that you don't want the union? The whole history of your company has indicated that.
MASSEY: That is not my decision. That's the decision of those employers and those employees of each bargaining unit. If they want the United Mine Workers to represent them, then we are 100 percent for them.
MARSH: You're not saying then that you can't afford a union contract?
MASSEY: No, we never said that. What we have said though is that Southern West Virginia cannot afford the union. Let me say that the problem here is that the United Mine Workers and the leadership is completely out of step with the economics and social change that's taken place in this state over the past decade or more. They have refused to recognize the fact that we're in a world energy market today. We're dealing with a world energy market where we've got to compete in this market or we're going to dry up and shrivel away.
MARSH: Last year this state had the highest coal production since 1970. It mined 130 million tons of coal and productivity in union mines has gone up every year. It's the highest it's ever been.
West Virginia's deep mines are much more productive than Kentucky's deep mines.
MASSEY: That's a misnomer and that's not true of Southern West Virginia. That anomaly in those production figures for last year is entirely due to the extremely productive longwall mining operations in Marion County and in the northern part of the