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UMWA reaches tentative agreement with Alpha and spinoff Contura

The United Mine Workers of America has reached a tentativelabor agreement with AlphaNatural Resources Inc. and its spinoff Contura Energy.

The deal with Contura, one of the that will control many ofAlpha's core assets as it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection,will cover around 800 workers at the Cumberland and Emerald mines inPennsylvania, the McClure preparation plant in Virginia and the Power Mountainpreparation plan in West Virginia. A tentative agreement with the reorganizedAlpha company that will be separate from Contura will cover a further 100 UMWAmembers at West Virginia preparation plants.

"This has been a long anddifficult set of negotiations," UMWA International President Cecil Robertssaid in a release. "It is never easy bargaining with a company inbankruptcy, especially one that has a judge's order in its back pocket thateliminates the existing agreement, wipes out retiree health care and endspension contributions."

The coal company's reorganizationwas approved by afederal bankruptcy court on July 7 in a deal that will likely carry the companyout of bankruptcy protection.

Alpha said in a statement it waspleased with the tentative settlement with UMWA.

"Ifapproved, this fair and thoughtfully negotiated settlement would signify amajor milestone in Alpha's restructuring with regard to cost savings, whileproviding jobs and keeping production operations running."

Roberts called the devastation tothe coal industry "undeniable" in the face of market challenges.

"This is the last of threecompanies that filed bankruptcy in 2015 to emerge, and we sincerely hopethere will be no more. Workers always come last in bankruptcy proceedings andretirees suffer significant loss."

Alpha had announceda separate deal with UMWA funds over payments earlier in July.

Workers at the operations in concern will vote on whether toratify the contract on July 14.