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Murray Energy warns of up to 4,400 layoffs in September

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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Miners listen to Mitt Romney as he speaks at a campaign stop on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, at Murray Energy Corp.'s Century Mine in Beallsville, Ohio. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review

Murray Energy Corp. is warning 4,400 of its 5,300 employees of potential layoffs in September as the coal company deals with a depressed market and a failed attempt at reaching a labor agreement with union miners.

Notices went out this week to employees in six states, in anticipation of what the St. Clairsville, Ohio-based company called “mass workforce reductions.” Its operations include five former Consol Energy mines in West Virginia that Murray purchased in 2013.

Like most coal companies, Murray has idled mines and furloughed workers over the past two years because of falling demand and prices as coal-fired power plants close or switch to natural gas.

“These workforce reductions are due to the ongoing destruction of the United States coal industry by President Barack Obama, and his supporters, and the increased utilization of natural gas to generate electricity,” the company said in a statement. It also said it would continue to produce and ship coal.

Members of the United Mine Workers of America this week rejected a proposed contract agreement with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, which is led by company CEO Robert E. Murray. The current contract expires at the end of the year.

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