CLARKSBURG – United Mine Workers of America is suing Monongalia County Coal Company for failing to abide by an agreement.

International Union-United Mine Workers of America and Local Union 1702-United Mine Workers of America are signatory to or bound by a collective bargaining agreement, commonly referred to as the 2011 National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement, which governs the wages, hours and working conditions of bargaining unit employees at the Monongalia County Mine, according to a complaint filed Feb. 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

The plaintiffs claim the contract also provides for a grievance and arbitration process and requires that the parties engage in an earnest effort to resolve any disputes arising between them.

Previously, a dispute arose over the company’s subcontracting of bargaining unit work and the dispute was not resolved by the parties and was referred to an arbitrator for resolution.

The plaintiffs claim the arbitrator in that case, known as Arbitrator Moscovitch, sustained the union's grievance on Sept. 9, 2010, and issued and award ruling that the construction and installation of seals in the mine was the exclusive work of the bargaining unit employees.

"The company did not challenge the prior award of Arbitrator Moscovitch; however, despite the issuance of Arbitrator Moscovitch's award determining the construction and installation of seals to be the exclusive work jurisdiction of the union employees, the company continued to contract out the seal work in the mines," the complaint states.

This continuing violation gave rise to additional grievances and arbitration proceedings and finally culminating with instant grievance being filed by the union specifically seeking to compel the company's compliance with Moscovitch award including a "make whole" remedy and a cease and desist order, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim the parties were unable to resolve the second grievance and the matter was ultimately referred to Arbitrator I. Bernard Trombetta for resolution. A hearing was conducted before Trombetta on May 7.

Trombetta sustained the union's grievance in a decision on June 10, granting the grievance and ordering the company to cease and desist from subcontracting any further seal construction and installation work to outside contractors, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim the defendant has refused to abide by the decision of the arbitrator and continues to use contractors that have "undermined the integrity of the extant collective bargaining agreement ..."

The plaintiffs are seeking an order to permanently enjoin the company from utilizing contractors in any manner inconsistent with the agreement and compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Charles F. Donnelly of United Mine Workers of America.

The case is assigned to Irene M. Keeley.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number: 1:15-cv-00021

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