Willow Lake miners meet with UMWA about layoffs

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - Hundreds of newly laid-off miners met in Harrisburg Thursday to discuss the closure of Willow Lake Mine and their futures.

The meeting was for United Mine Workers of America members only. UMWA leaders tell Heartland News they wanted to speak the miners about their 60-day severance pay, and about plans to fight to keep union workers in 34 to 36 remaining surface jobs at the Willow Lake Mine.

UMWA officials say it may be tough for 334 laid-off Willow Lake miners to find new jobs as mines are closing all over.

"This industry has always been boom or bust," said UMWA District 12 Vice President Steve Earle. "This is a difficult time for all of us. Peabody in the last few weeks closed one of their operations in Indiana, Patriot Coal Company closed the Freedom underground mine and also a surface facility at the Grand Eagle mine, so it's going to be tough."

Willow Lake's parent company, Peabody Energy, issued a statement Tuesday saying the Willow Lake Mine was shutting down because it failed to meet acceptable standards for safety and had poor production performance.

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