This time, Westmoreland deal with Rosebud workers went fast

Westmoreland Coal (NasdaqGM: WLB) said Nov. 13 that its Western Energy subsidiary entered into a six-year collective bargaining agreement with the represented employees at its Rosebud strip mine located in Colstrip, Mont.

The new agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 400 is effective Jan. 1, 2013, and will expire Feb. 28, 2019.

“We are pleased that we were able to cooperatively enter into this long-term agreement with the IUOE prior to the expiration of the prior agreement. This new agreement provides us certainty to continue to serve the needs of our customers,” stated Robert King, company COO and President. “We would like to thank the leadership and membership of the IUOE for their commitment to a collaborative process and look forward to continued safe and successful mining operations at the Rosebud Mine.”

“IUOE Local 400 and its bargaining team are pleased to announce that they have reached a six year agreement with Westmoreland Coal Co. This contract is the direct result of the Union and the Company working together to make sure that both have the ability to look towards the future with some degree of certainty and stability that will benefit everyone,” said Chuck Cashell, Business Manager of the IUOE Local 400. “After a very contentious negotiations and strike in 2009, the Company and the Union came together and with the assistance of the federal mediation and conciliation service (FMCS) used interest based bargaining as a framework to do things differently this time around. We feel that this process has worked well and has been successful in addressing the needs of both parties.”

Rosebud is a 25,000-acre surface mine complex located in the northern Powder River Basin. It has three active pits and supplies almost all of its current production to the four-unit, 2,100-MW Colstrip power plant, which is adjacent to the mine and was designed to burn Rosebud coal, the Westmoreland website noted.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows a sharp drop in Rosebud production lately, with 5.4 million tons produced in the first nine months of this year, 8.8 million tons of production in all of 2011 and 12.2 million tons of output in all of 2012.

PPL Corp. (NYSE: PPL) said in its Nov. 8 Form 10-Q filing that due to a shift in the power and fuel markets, its Montana coal plants (Colstrip and Corette) ran at 87% utilization in the 2009-2011 period, but only 59% so far in 2012 through Sept. 30. PPL operates Colstrip on behalf of various other co-owners.

PPL announced in September its intention, beginning in April 2015, to place its Corette plant in Montana in long-term reserve status, suspending the plant’s operation due to expected market conditions and the costs to comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Westmoreland’s operations include coal mining in the Powder River Basin in Montana, sub-bituminous coal mining in Wyoming, and lignite mining operations in Montana, North Dakota and Texas. Its power operations include ownership of the two-unit ROVA coal-fired power plant in North Carolina.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.