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article imageWeak coal market prompts possible layoffs at Murray Energy Corp.

By Karen Graham     Jul 2, 2016 in Business
Murray Energy Corp., the largest privately held coal company in the U.S. announced on Friday it may have to layoff 82 percent of its workforce in September, due in part to president Obama.
Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent said on Friday that the company may have to cut as many as 4,400 more jobs in September, a move that would reduce the workforce from a high of 8,400 in May of 2015 to fewer than 1,000 workers.
Murray sent a letter to employees indicating there may be the layoffs, blaming the weak coal market, with the company saying it anticipates “massive workforce reductions in September.” Labor laws require a 60-day waiting period before large layoffs can take place, according to Fox News.
Bob Murray, the owner of Murray Energy and an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, said the layoffs could potentially affect workers in six states. Murray puts the total number of employees with Murray Energy at 5,356, according to The Hill.
Murray's company also took a hit several days ago when UMW members at five West Virginia mines voted to reject a tentative new contract. At that time, in a statement, Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent said, “BCOA will further examine all of its options with regard to this matter.”
“These workforce reductions are due to the ongoing destruction of the United States coal industry by President Barack Obama, and his supporters, and the increased utilization of natural gas to generate electricity,” the company said in a Friday statement, according to The Intelligencer.
This latest move by Murray Energy may be just that, an option that he has coated with political nuances. But Murray should come to the realization that with Appalachian coal selling for $40 a ton, half of what it was five years ago, things will probably not improve, and that is one thing he can't put on Obama's doorstep.
Murray has also warned that he might consider bankruptcy protection if he didn’t get concessions from the UMW, according to stories in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
According to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Murray Energy was the nation's fifth-largest coal producer in 2015, putting out 62.8 million tons. Peabody Energy led the nation in 2014 with 189.5 million tons, while Arch Coal came in second with 135.8 million tons.
Also in 2014, Cloud Peak Energy, with operations almost exclusively in Wyoming, came in third with 85.8 million tons, and Alpha Natural Resources was fourth with 80.2 million tons. Of those five companies, three, Peabody, Arch and Alpha all filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, according to Digital Journal.
More about coal company layoffs, Murray Energy Corp, 4400 workers, blames Obama, Natural gas
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