LEBANON, Va. -- A Russell County judge who fined the United Mine Workers $218,000 in connection with the Pittston strike warned union officials they face more fines if strikers continue to violate court orders.
Circuit Judge Donald McGlothlin late Tuesday night praised union leaders for controlling the rank and file, but said he had no choice but to impose the sanctions.
In finding the UMW in comtempt of court for violating an injunction limiting pickets at Pittston Coal Group plants, McGlothlin levied the fines against the union and its top officers.
'I firmly believe that the fate of this union in regard to these violations are in the hands of the leadership,' McGlothlin said.
McGlothlin, ruling the union had violated the terms of the injunction 72 times, fined the international UMW a total of $440,000 - $375,000 for acts of violence and $65,000 for non-violent acts. McGlothlin suspended $250,000 of the total on the condition that the union pay the remaining $190,000 within 10 days of the filing of his order.
McGlothlin fined UMW District 28 $150,000 for violent acts and $26,000 for non-violent acts. McGlothlin suspended the $150,000 fine with the condition that the $26,000 sanction be paid within 10 days.
He fined UMW international official Marty Hudson and District 28 president Jackie Stump $13,000 each, suspending $12,000 of each man's fine on the condition that they strictly comply with the injunction.
McGlothlin also warned that the union would be subject to a $100,000 fine for any future act of violence and a minimum $20,000 fine for each day that pickets exceed allowable limits or went into prohibited areas.
He said the union exceeded the number of pickets allowed at various company sites or had pickets in prohibited areas 43 times. Fifteen violations were acts of violence against people or property, 10 involved pickets blocking entrances to operations of Pittston subsidiary Clinchfield Coal and four were of a technical nature.
McGlothlin also said mass picketing in violation of the injunction occurred on 13 days and that the company's interests were blocked by pickets on 12 days.
The union was trying to equate its civil disobedience with the pre-Civil War abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, McGlothlin said, but he could not make that comparison because the UMW's strike against Pittston is an economic dispute.
'You're not talking about human rights,' he said.
Attorney Steve Hodges of Pittston, which pressed for the contempt citation, said the ruling was 'a very thoughtful, reasoned decision.
'It is sufficient, from the company's viewpoint, if is effective in stopping the violence and other violations of the injunction,' Hodges said.
Hudson said the union would evaluate the finding and 'see what's in the best interest of our members.
'I think he (the judge) lent a lot of credit to the union and the way the strike is being conducted,' Hudson said.
About 10 witnesses, including non-union coal truck drivers, security guards and Pittston officials, had testified that pickets had heaved rocks at coal trucks and private vehicles, breaking windshields and causing other damage.
The strike, more over scheduling and benefits than wages, began after miners worked for 14 months without a contract.