Members of the United Mine Workers labor union on Friday ratified a new 5 1/2-year deal with an association of coal companies in a nationwide vote.
In a news release from Triangle, Va., the union said 70 percent voted in favor of the collective bargaining agreement with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association.
"Our members will receive the largest pay increase in the 121-year history of our union," union President Cecil E. Roberts said in the statement. He said the agreement would "preserve full health care benefits for active and retired members and their dependents, as well as preserve pensions for current and future retirees with no cuts in benefits."
The union had said earlier that members would get a $6 an hour raise over the duration of the contract. They would average about $30 an hour by 2016.
The Bituminous Coal Operators represent mainly the unionized subsidiaries of Canonsburg, Pa.-based Consol Energy. But the pension language of the deal affects more companies and thousands of miners.
Roberts said the union will use the agreement as the basis for talks with other companies.