Unionized coal mines safer, more productive than non-union operations
Data analyzed by SNL Energy suggests underground coal mines in Appalachia that have unionized are not only safer, but also more productive.
By combining the past two years of health and safety data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and union status data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, SNL Energy found that underground mines in Central and Northern Appalachia produced about 94,091 tons of coal for every injury reported in 2013 compared to 71,110 tons at nonunion mines. In 2014, the gap was slightly narrower at 79,001 tons at union operations compared to 76,087 tons per injury at nonunion operations.
SNL Energy’s analysis looked at 1,086 mines in 2013 and 2014, including 54 union mines and 1,032 nonunion mines.
Underground union mines in the region produced more tons for every injury reported despite research suggesting unionized miners are more likely to report injuries that have occurred on the job. A 2012 study authored by Stanford University labor regulation expert Alison Morantz found that unionization is associated with a 13% to 30% drop in traumatic injuries and a 28% to 83% drop in fatalities. She concluded that unionization tends to predict higher total and nontraumatic injuries in the data she analyzed from 1993 to 2010, suggesting that injury reporting practices differ between union and nonunion mines.