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W.Va. coal miners featured on TV vote to join UMWA

Nov. 08, 2012 @ 11:15 PM

CHARLESTON -- Workers at the southern West Virginia mine featured on Spike TV's one-season reality show "Coal" have voted to unionize.

The United Mine Workers of America said Thursday it welcomes the miners of Cobalt Coal Co. to the union family and looks forward to negotiating a fair contract on their behalf.

Canadian operator Cobalt owns the Westchester mine in McDowell County.

Cobalt crews mine a highly valuable metallurgical coal used in steelmaking, but the seam is notoriously thin, forcing men to work in a space just 42 inches high some 600 feet underground.

During filming of the show, federal inspectors cited the company for 19 health and safety violations. There were, however, no accidents or serious injuries.

The National Labor Relations Board supervised Wednesday's vote, which favored representation 15-7.

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