Can I be forced to work consecutive days until a project is complete?
I work in a coal mine and when we move our long-wall section our company changes our three days a week, 12 hours per day schedule, to a six days a week, nine hours per day schedule. After we fall behind their unrealistic schedule they tell us that it's mandatory to work seven days straight for nine hours per day until the move is complete--which usually takes between 15 to 30 days. Do we have any rights against this, or do we just have to deal with it?Coal mine workers are generally protected from unfair business practices by a number of labor-related laws, such as the National Labor Relations Act.
The United Mine Workers of America (www.UMWA.org) represents workers in the coal industry and the expectations for miners' working hours are usually negotiated and set out in various collective bargaining agreements with mine owners.
Whether or not your employer can force you to work these kinds of hours--or rather, what's considered fair working hours--is probably addressed in their agreement.
Your union is there to protect you and you should bring any grievances (or even questions like this) to your union representative. If you don't know who that is, contact the UMWA--their website has a link to the various district offices, and they can put you in touch with the right person.
Nina L. Kaufman, Esq. is an award-winning New York City attorney, edutainer and author. Under her Ask The Business Lawyer brand, she reaches thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners with her legal services, professional speaking, information products, and LexAppeal weekly ezine. She also writes the Making It Legal blog.