The leader of US labour union United Mineworkers of America (UMWA), which primarily represents coal miners, has condemned US President Trump’s actions following the outcome of the presidential election, which Trump’s opponent Joe Biden won.

UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts said: “I have watched with growing concern the actions of the Trump campaign and the President himself in their effort to overthrow the will of the American people and claim some sort of victory in the face of the overwhelming vote of the American people for President-elect Biden.”

President Trump’s campaign in 2016 promised to reinvigorate a coal industry in decline and he enjoyed support from coal miners in that election cycle and throughout his administration, during which the federal government rolled back Obama-era regulations that had been seen as a hindrance to the sector.

The intervention from Roberts could be a signal that coal miners are turning their backs on the President ahead of President-elect Biden’s inauguration in January.

Biden flipped five states from Republican to Democrat in this election cycle, securing enough electoral votes for the race to be called in his favour. Despite this, President Trump and key members of his team have repeatedly made baseless claims around electoral fraud on a “massive and unprecedented scale”. The Trump team’s efforts in courts around the country to establish this have been fruitless, with neither Trump nor his allies providing any real evidence the election result is illegitimate.

“While there is nothing wrong with a candidate asking for a recount where it is appropriate and asking for legal review of the results, that has now happened in state after state and there has been little to show for it,” Roberts continued in his statement. “The President’s campaign has lost in court after court.

“But now something sinister is occurring. The President and his campaign have largely given up the legal battle and are putting pressure on state elections officials and legislators to deny the verdict of the voters and overturn their democratic rights. This is a threat to our entire form of government and the American way of life.”

Emily Murphy, administrator of the US General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that allows the presidential transition period to commence, wrote a letter to Joe Biden earlier this week. In it, she notified the President-elect that she would be making “post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition”. The GSA’s signal that it is ready to begin the formal presidential transition process was seen as a signal that Trump’s efforts to overturn the election result are probably in vain.

UMWA did not endorse either candidate in the build-up to the election and hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate since Barack Obama’s first campaign in 2008 when the union believed that Obama’s initial policy platform was better equipped at advancing the interests of coal miners than Republican candidate John McCain’s offering.

The number of employed coal miners in the US almost halved in Obama’s second term, sitting at just below 49,000 in the summer of 2016 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Under Trump’s administration, that number remained relatively steady at around 50,000, but the industry saw little in the way of growth despite government efforts, with production volumes continuing to decline. Employment in the sector fell drastically at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, as the US became the nation worst affected by the pandemic. As of the time of writing, there have been 12.8 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 262,000 people have died in the country.

“Our members voted for the candidate of their choice – some voted for President Trump, and some voted for President-elect Biden,” said Roberts. “They, like an unprecedented number of American voters, had their say. And they recognize that it is time to move on and get with the business of ending the coronavirus pandemic, bringing our economy back to life and helping those who have lost everything to get back on their feet.

“The UMWA is prepared to do what we always do: Fight for safe, healthy and family-sustaining jobs for our members, protect our retirees’ health care and pensions, and organize new members so that they can enjoy the benefits of a union contract on the job. We will work with the Biden administration where we can, and we will oppose it where we must. That is the long tradition of this great union no matter who is in the White House, and we will carry it onward.”