Coal labor and management remain as far from a settlement as ever, with their chief negotiators saying renewed talks are "possible but not definite" on May 7, Monitor labor correspondent Ed Townsend reports.
United Mine Workers president Sam Church called for new talks this week but said the UMW bargaining council still feels that "I should go back to the table with what we've presented." B. R. Brown, chief negotiator for the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, said he was willing to meet with Mr. Church, but "the only things I see on the bargaining table are things discussed months ago and rejected by operators."
The UMW insists that a new contract contain provisions for royalties on nonunion coal bought by operators for resale. The operators refuse to give ground on this issue, which is the principal barrier to a settlement.
Pressure is growing for settlement of the 40-day strike. Sen. Jennings Randolph (D) of West Virginia is urging both sides to seek the help of federal mediators. Coal-state businesses are severely hurt, with 160,000 miners off payrolls, and sharply cut tax revenues are causing serious problems. In West Virginia, one of the most seriously affected states, state colleges have had to limit sports competitio n to events on home fields because of travel cutbacks caused by losses of coal tax revenue.