By William Thornton
July 10, 2021 - The United Mine Workers of America says the wife of a miner was struck by a vehicle Thursday on a picket line in Tuscaloosa County as the strike against Warrior Met Coal continues.
The union identified the woman as Amy Pinkerton, the wife of UMWA Local Union 2245 member Greg Pinkerton.
In a video released by the union, Amy Pinkerton said she had been obeying instructions from Tuscaloosa County deputies.
“I was just picketing, back and forth,” she said on the video.
“Every time that the sheriff’s officer asked to stop to let a, as we call them, scab, in and out of the mine, I always did exactly what he asked me to do and stop. I was walking and a guy decided to turn in all of a sudden. I was not even in the center of the road and he hit me on the right side of my body and kept on going.”
United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts, who said he witnessed the incident, called it an attempt by the company to intimidate striking miners.
“She was obeying the orders of the sheriff’s deputy to stay out of the way of vehicles as they were going in and out of the mine,” Roberts said. Both Pinkerton and Roberts said the incident was seen by deputies, but no action was taken. Attempts to reach the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office were not immediately successful.
Warrior Met Coal has continued with operations during the strike, which has remained largely peaceful, with large scale rallies in and around the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham areas.
In May, nearly a dozen miners were arrested during a protest outside a mine. Last month, striking miners reported at least three instances of violence along picket lines.
In a statement last month in reaction to reports of violence, Warrior Met Coal said it was granted a court-ordered injunction to maintain a safe environment for its employees, “including those actively at work and those currently on strike.”
“This injunction was put in place due to unlawful activity on the picket lines early during the strike, to allow for peaceful ingress and egress to our facilities, as well as maintain public safety,” the company said. “Among other items, the injunction specifically prohibits picketers from interfering, hindering or obstructing ingress and egress to the company’s properties. This is a stressful situation for all individuals involved, and continued violations of the injunction have resulted in recent incidents.”
More than 1,100 workers at Warrior Met Coal have been on strike since April 1, calling for better pay and benefits. Nearly two weeks into the strike, it appeared a settlement had been reached, but that was rejected after union members “emphatically” voted down the tentative agreement. The union says the company’s latest contract offer did not make up for concessions the union made to keep the company operating out of bankruptcy in 2016.
“I reiterate my call for Warrior Met’s CEO to meet with me as soon as possible so that we can negotiate a fair, reasonable and peaceful end to this strike,” Roberts said. “That is in the company’s best interests, the miners’ best interests and the communities’ best interests. This violence by company personnel has to stop.”