Prospects of a mine workers' strike involving Patriot Coal are intensifying after a bankruptcy judge signed off on the company's push to abandon its labor agreement with the United Mine Workers of America.
Patriot operates two mines in Union and Henderson counties in Kentucky.
The UMWA and St. Louis-based Patriot have taken a break from talks, with the company empowered by the judge's May 29 ruling. The decision allows Patriot to make deep cuts to benefits for thousands of retirees. It also alters its labor deal with current employees.
The UMWA and the company say they're negotiating in good faith, though the union indicated what's on the table now may go to the membership for consideration of whether or not to strike.
Patriot officials said a walkout could force it to liquidate.