Court approves deal for rehiring Decker miners

Up to 30 employees laid off from Decker Mine could be rehired. (Photo from Sheridan MEdia files)

A federal court has approved a tentative agreement under which up to 30 employees of Decker Coal Mine could be rehired to complete reclamation or cleanup of the mine site north of Sheridan.

Utah-based Lighthouse Resources Inc., which owns the mine, declared bankruptcy last December, and in January, mining ceased and the vast majority of the company’s workforce was laid off amid a sharp decline in demand for coal to generate electricity.

Earlier this week, the court approved an agreement struck between attorneys for Lighthouse Resources and the United Mine Workers of America that would allow the rehire. Lighthouse Resources laid off over 70 workers at the Decker Mine in December when the company declared bankruptcy. Additional workers were laid off in January, and by Jan. 22, when the company had stopped mining for coal, only four union workers were still at the Decker facility.

Michael Dalpiaz, vice president of District 22 for United Mine Workers of America, said the union contract requires Lighthouse Resources to maintain health care for employees, with some very minor changes. He said the employees who are rehired will work under a union contract.

A company pension plan has been frozen, but Dalpiaz said the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will take that over and anyone who is qualified will still have their pension.

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