The United Mine Workers of America will stage a protest in Henderson Tuesday over Patriot Coal’s move to end its contract and reduce wages and benefits for active union members.
The UMWA will bring more than 30 busloads of supporters from around the Midwest and Appalachia to the Henderson County Courthouse in western Kentucky. A ruling by a federal bankruptcy judge last week authorized Patriot to make a variety of financial moves during reorganization.
The United Mine Workers of America plan to appeal a court ruling that will significantly cut health care and pension benefits to thousands of workers and retirees, including many in Kentucky.
On Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States approved Peabody Energy Corp. spin-off Patriot Coal’s request to impose wage and benefit cuts by throwing out its collective bargaining agreements with the UMW. Union spokesman Phil Smith says the battle is far from over, however.
A pending federal bankruptcy court decision could affect thousands of Kentucky mine worker benefits.
Patriot Coal Corporation, which operates two mines in Union and Henderson counties, wants to modify their collective bargaining agreements with the United Mine Workers Association. Patriot will replace all health care benefits for retirees with a Voluntary Employee Benefit Association trust. Patriot doesn't plan to replace the health insurance program for current employees.
Members of the United Mine Workers of America and other unions rallied in St. Louis today. Hundreds of United Mine Workers and supports marched through the streets of St. Louis today as part of a rally in front of the corporate headquarters of Peabody Energy. Miners are protesting the potential loss of health benefits.
Patriot Coal’s federal bankruptcy case will no longer be heard in New York City. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman in New York ruled that the case be moved to St. Louis, where Patriot Coal is based. Chapman says there were hundreds of handwritten letters from retired coal miners.
A St. Louis-based coal company with mines throughout the region has agreed to phase out its mountaintop removal sites. Patriot Coal agreed to the measure as part of a settlement that grants the company more time to control water pollution at its mines in West Virginia.