Monday, June 09, 2003

Sale of Lynch mine in KY did not violate successorship clause of UMWA agreement

The Lynch mines across the mountain from SW VA in Kentucky, originally owned by United States Steel Corporation, and most owned by subsidiaries of Arch Coal, are the subject of this opinion from the Sixth Circuit, which affirms the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment against the United Mine Workers of America on their claims that the last seller violated the successorship clause of the 1998 NBCWA by not imposing successorship obligations on the last buyer. The language of the contract requires the employer to make sure that all of its "operations" are sold without a proviso that the buyer will recognize the union. The Sixth Circuit concluded, like others before it, that closed mines were not "operations" covered by the successorship clause.

One of the cases cited by the union in their argument was International Union, UMWA v. Eastover Mining Co., 603 F. Supp. 1038 (W.D. Va. 1985), an opinion by Judge Williams which has since been overruled by the Fourth Circuit, as it allowed a breach of collecting bargaining agreement against a non-party to the agreement, which made it a popular decision with the UMWA.

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