Court approves deal between union, bankrupt coal miner
| February 22, 2021 3:00 PM
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A court has approved a deal allowing up to 30 workers to be rehired at a shuttered Montana coal mine to complete cleanup of the property near the Wyoming border.
The Decker mine stopped mining in January and laid off the vast majority of its workforce amid a sharp decline in demand for coal to generate electricity.
Michael Dalpiaz, vice president of District No. 22 for United Mine Workers of America, told the Casper Star-Tribune union members had ratified the tentative agreement. The union contract requires the firm to maintain health care, albeit with "very minor" changes, he said.
"Up to 30 people will be called back to start the reclamation process, and they will work under a union contract," Dalpiaz said.
Utah-based Lighthouse Resources laid off 76 workers at the mine after filing for bankruptcy last year, About 46 employees remained after the layoffs, with nine furloughed union employees, but by Jan. 22 the company had stopped mining for coal and had only four union workers at the facility.
Montana holds $126.4 million in bonds for the Decker mine. In the year leading up to the company's bankruptcy, company executives received over $700,000 in bonuses.
Most of the mine's workers lived in Wyoming.