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Mine Workers Vow to Fight On after Bankruptcy Court Rules Patriot Coal Can Void Obligations


The MTD-affiliated United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) will persevere in trying to secure justice for workers and retirees at Patriot Coal despite a May 29 ruling in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Missouri.

Deciding in favor of the company, the judge wrote that Patriot, which was spun out from Peabody Energy in 2007, could end payments for retirement and gut other benefits and protections. According to UMWA President Cecil Roberts, the decision is “wrong, unfair and fails to fully recognize the coming wave of human suffering that will be experienced by thousands of people throughout the coalfields.”

Furthermore, Roberts said, “I want to make it emphatically clear that despite this ruling, the UMWA’s effort to win fairness for these active and retired workers is by no means over. Indeed, this ruling makes it more important than ever for the architects of this travesty, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, to take responsibility for the obligations they made to thousands of retirees who are now at imminent risk.”

The MTD Executive Board at its February meeting passed a statement of support for the Mine Workers, noting “as many as 22,000 active members, retirees, dependents and widow are affected by Patriot’s bankruptcy.” The UMWA has pointed out that if Patriot (as well as Peabody and Arch Coal who also spun off some its assets into Patriot) can get away with reneging on negotiated contract obligations, “then no retiree’s collectively bargained health care or pension is safe in America!”

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