November Council Day: Gumption, Grit, Grace, and Gratitude

On Friday, our team met for Council Day, and fittingly, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, our conversations involved much about gratitude — for family, work, and friendships.

Crew members kicked off the day by sharing personal and professional victories from this month, which ranged from Joey Garcia’s graduation from a sober living program to Josiah Hannah’s one-year anniversary at Coalfield. We also celebrated the recent promotions of Kelli Crabtree, named Senior Director of Employee Development, and Elice Hunley, the newest crew chief on the Coalfield Development team. 

Introducing Mountain Mindful’s Winter 2021 product line

Chief Operating Officer Ryan Stoner announced the upcoming deals for Mountain Mindful’s sitewide seasonal sales: Black Friday sales will take place between November 22-28 with a 35% discount. Cyber Monday deals will run Sunday, November 28 through Monday, November 29 with a 45% off discount. Tuesday, November 30th will be focused on donations for Giving Tuesday. 

In December, we’ll observe our first 12 Days of Mindfulness with a continued discount on select items purchased through Facebook Shop. Between December 1-6, customers will receive 20% off of all products, and December 7-12 will be a BOGO on apparel. Purchases must be made through Facebook Shop to receive a discount.   

This sale will be the perfect time to stock up and cross items off the holiday shopping list with gifts like sweatshirts for winter months and seasonal gift bundles, along with our home furnishings, and self care items! Can’t decide which products to get? Gift cards will also be available for purchase. 

Collecting input for Coalfield’s strategic plan  

After a series of individual reflections, we broke into smaller groups to discuss our input for the strategic plan, which outlines our core values, operations, and business strategy. CEO Brandon Dennison encouraged staff to share their ideas for process improvements in the coming year. 

“Your input will get into the strategic plan,” Brandon said. “It always has, always will.”

Focusing on various elements of our operations, groups suggested everything from including more upcycling materials, to analyzing the employment placement process post-graduation, to ideas for generating more wealth to circulate in our communities. 

Derrick Scott, Fairfield WRAPS supervisor, echoed Brandon’s sentiments about the importance of perfecting our trades and growing from there.

“The finer the tool, the better it is at doing what it’s supposed to do,” Derrick said. 

Hosting Town Hall and a discussion on unionization

Before lunch, we hosted our Town Hall to look over a potential union agreement and gather input from the crew. If signed, Coalfield Development will become a union employer, something Brandon has hoped to accomplish since Coalfield was founded. 

“A lot of times we just take it for granted,” Brandon said. “We just assume every worker would get [protection] because it’s the law, but it hasn’t always been the law. It’s taken a lot of hard work and a lot of union representation and organizing to get paid vacation, a 40-hour work week, eight-hour work days, safe working conditions, worker compensation, and the existence of OSHAA. That had to be fought for.” 

He used the opportunity to highlight the significance of West Virginia’s labor history, citing the protections that came from miners’ unionization in Matewan, teachers’ strike, and more.

Participating in a union would ensure a retirement benefit and more access to trade training such as welding. This would enable second-year and beyond Coalfield crew members to learn to do road construction and bridges — skills that can set them on a path to good pay and benefit jobs post-Coalfield. The union, he added, would also enable employees to advocate for ourselves and our coworkers if ever needed. 

“Unions have developed world class training programs so that new people can enter the workforce and develop skills. Last but probably most importantly, the worker voice has some platform to raise concerns, discuss issues, and be part of decision-making.” 

WRAPS trainee would be a pre-apprentice, on pathway to union membership. Current crew members would be apprenticed automatically, and new crew members could be apprenticed after 180 days of successful performance. 

“I want us to raise the bar for what it means to be a quality employer in Appalachia,” Brandon said. 

Group reflections

Following our lunch break, we carried out a series of conversions and discussions, first dividing into groups of similar personnel to discuss the status of operations and review their efficiency. Afterwards, Brandon led a discussion on defining qualities of leadership and how they translate in the professional world. As small groups, we analyzed our own interpretations of leadership and compared their similarities. 

At the end of Friday’s event, Kelli Crabtree presented information about our employee insurance offerings and introduced the new Drug-Free Workplace Policy. 

From all of us at Coalfield Development: We look forward to hosting our team at next month’s — and 2021’s final — Council Day! Stay safe, stay healthy, and have a happy holiday!  

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