Miners Deal with Layoffs by Beleaguered Murray Energy Corp.

Miners Deal with Layoffs by Beleaguered Murray Energy Corp.

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PRICE, Utah (AP) -- Dustin Montoya will get $400 a week in jobless pay after being laid off at one of the coal mines owned by Murray Energy Corp., the operator of the mine that left six workers trapped after an Aug. 6 cave-in.

Montoya declined to take up mine boss Bob Murray's offer of work at other company mines in Illinois and Ohio.

"I can't leave my family behind," Montoya said. "I got two young kids, a wife. I ain't going to do it."

Montana was one of the 170 miners laid off after the collapse of the Crandall Canyon mine near Huntington. He showed up Thursday at a state unemployment office with a dozen others for a seminar on jobless benefits, training options and educational programs.

Some companies set up recruitment booths.

"Somebody might be willing to come to Vernal and work for us," said Paul Moorman, a recruiter from oil-services contractor Halliburton Co.

Miners say other jobs available to them generally don't pay as well.

This is the second time Montoya has been laid off by Murray Energy. The first was 15 days before last Christmas, when the company let about 100 miners go. Montoya went back to work at Carbon County's West Ridge Mine in March.

Now he's out of work again.

"I think I'm done. I'm done working for Bob Murray and his company," he said.

Murray had to abandon the Crandall Canyon mine where drill crews are trying to locate the trapped miners. Then he temporarily shut down the Aberdeen mine, 7 miles north of Price, as engineers test its ability to withstand seismic shocks that have plagued the Crandall Canyon search and rescue operation.

Murray consolidated crews at the West Ridge mine, laying off some miners there and sending about 40 veterans to jobs in the Midwest.

Fortunately for the miners, the Utah economy is good. The Utah Department of Workforce Services said the unemployment rate in Utah's coal country is less than 3 percent.

"There are plenty of employment opportunities," agency spokesman Curt Stewart said Thursday. "They don't pay as well as a mining job."

State authorities didn't see Murray Energy's layoffs coming.

"What we usually get is called a 'warn notice'; it's where a company lets us know they are going to experience a layoff in the near future. That way we can come and talk to the employees on site," Stewart said. "We didn't get that. It was announced overnight."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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