Coal Miners Get Shaft From New Pens Arena Deal

Based in suburban Pittsburgh, CONSOL Energy is one of the largest coal mining companies in the United States, producing 65 tons of coal annually and having 4.5 billion tons in reserve. However, the company claims that a lack of demand from steel mills is hurting its business, to the point that the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE says that it may lay off all of its 260 miners at its 84 Mine in Washington County.

Penguins coal miner

But you’ll excuse the miners who might soon be out of work if they are a little skeptical. After all, it was only less than a month ago that CONSOL Energy announced a 21-year naming rights deal to the new Pittsburgh Penguins arena. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but estimates put the price tag could be as much as $85 million dollars over the length of the deal. And that’s a lot of coal miner’s salaries.

CONSOL has given notice that layoffs could begin at the 84 Mine within 60 days. Officials say that the layoffs would be temporary, based on the lack of demand for coal used by steel mills in the smelting process. But workers think that it’s part of a plan to shut down the plant because it is unionized. Somewhere, Norma Rae is angry.

And given CONSOL’s investment in the Penguins, workers aren’t exactly buying that the company has suddenly fallen on hard times:

But workers at the mine are skeptical of the company’s claims of financial distress, especially after it has committed to spending millions for the naming rights to the new Penguins arena in Pittsburgh, according to longtime miner Roy Larimer.

“They spend money left and right on everything else,” said Mr. Larimer, a Bentleyville councilman who has worked the 84 Mine seam since 1973.

Experts had said that spending the money on the naming rights would be money well spent because it would “put them on the map nationally.” But why does a coal company need to be on the map nationally in the first place? Don’t potential customers know where to get their coal already. This was the makings of an Enron Field-sized disaster written all over it.