UMWA to protest in St. Louis over Patriot - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

UMWA to protest in St. Louis over Patriot

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The United Mine Workers of America is bussing active and retired miners from across the eastern United States to St. Louis on Jan. 29 to protest what it alleges were an attempt to shun obligations to miners and retirees.

The UMWA claims that Patriot Coal was spun from Peabody Energy and Arch Coal and allowed to wither into bankruptcy — taking retiree and other miner obligations with it. Patriot, Peabody and Arch have contested those claims, saying market conditions had more to do with Patriot's failure.

Though the company is attempting to come out from under Chapter 11 reorganization, it could potentially use the bankruptcy process to eliminate employee obligations. The UMWA has vehemently fought against this since the bankruptcy was announced.

During the Jan. 29 protest, the group will march to the federal building in St. Louis and outside of Peabody Energy's headquarters. 

"What we have here is a company reneging on its promises," said UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts, referring to Peabody. "We're not going to take it. We will fight for our members and their families in the courts, in the coalfields and in the streets of St. Louis. Patriot and Peabody have a moral obligation to those who mined their coal."

There are more than 2,000 active UMWA members working at Patriot operations in West Virginia and Kentucky. Additionally, more than 10,000 retirees receive health care benefits from the company.