Washington — Negotiators for the United Mine Workers of America and the soft coal industry will have to come up with a new contract early this week to avert a strike in the nation's coal fields. Talks were recessed Sunday night without any reports of progress toward reaching an agreement. Negotiations resumed an hour late on Monday, just hours before an informal union deadline of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
UMW president Sam Church Jr. set the midnight deadline for a tentative agreement to allow time for ratification by rank-and-file members before the current contract expires March 27. The main roadblock is the industry's demand that a multi-employer pension plan b e changed to a company-by-company approach.