Mine construction workers who picketed coal mines in at least five states, most intensively in West Virginia, kept an estimated 50,000 miners off jobs, but the scattered labor troubles are not expected to last long, Monitor labor correspondent Ed Townsend reports. An agreement on job security issues could come within a week.
The construction group, whose numbers vary between 11,000 and 16,000, was not covered by the national agreement approved by a 2-to-1 margin last weekend to end a strike that began March 27. Union negotiators and those representing the Bituminous Coal Operators Association met this week on proposals for the construction workers' special contract covering nonwage issues.
When there was no immediate agreement, pickets began shutting down mines which had just resumed operations. Construction group leaders predicted further closings unless there was a quick agree ment.