UMWA continues Patriot-Peabody protests

February 13, 2013 by Ken Ward Jr.

Members of the United Mine Workers of America take part in a protest outside the of headquarters of Peabody Energy, one of the companies the union accuses of orchestrating business deals that bankrupted Patriot Coal, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in St. Louis. Ten people were arrested during the protest of bankruptcy proceedings that the union says jeopardizes pension and health care benefits for some 20,000 retirees and dependents. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Here’s the report today from The Associated Press, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the latest United Mine Workers of America civil disobedience action in the Patriot Coal bankruptcy (see here and here for background):

Protesters from the United Mine Workers of America picketed this morning outside the headquarters of Peabody Energy. That’s one of the companies the union accuses of orchestrating business deals that bankrupted Patriot Coal.

The protest ended before noon and 10 people were arrested.

Meanwhile, as Taylor Kuykendall reports in the State Journal:

The protest follows a filing by Patriot Coal requesting approximately $6 million in bonuses to be paid to about 120 executives and managers while it goes through bankruptcy reorganization. The UMWA said the move was a “callous disregard for the lives and well-being of thousands of active and retired workers and their families.”

“While Patriot is handing out cash to managers and executives, thousands of retirees and widows the company is responsible for are worried about having to choose between buying groceries or getting the prescription drugs they need to live,” said UMWA President Cecil Roberts. “That $6 million would pay for a month’s worth of health care for retirees, dependents and widows. It’s also $6 million Patriot could use to fight Peabody Energy and Arch Coal in court to get them to pay for these obligations.”

According to a statement from Patriot Coal, the company’s CEO and executive team will not participate in the retention and annual incentive plans filed yesterday. 

“The purpose of these plans is to motivate key employees to remain with Patriot and to achieve financial and operating performance goals that are essential to the Company becoming viable through reorganization.,” Patriot stated. “A successful reorganization is critical to Patriot’s survival and to saving 4,000 jobs.”

You can read the court filing here.

One Response to “UMWA continues Patriot-Peabody protests”

  1. Phil Smith says:

    Ken: Thanks for posting this. We had another tremendous event today in St. Louis and will be back.

    I would point out that Patriot’s statement is consistent with all of their statements on this bankruptcy from day one: There is absolutely no mention of the 10,700 retirees who depend on the health care they get from this company. They only focus on the active workers at the company.

    We too are concerned with the 2,000 active UMWA members at Patriot — President Roberts could not be at today’s events in St. Louis because he is engaged in talks with Patriot about the future of our contract with the company as part of the bankruptcy process. He is fighting for the preservation of decades of improvements in pay, benefits and working conditions that contract reflects.

    But it is telling that at no time during this process has Patriot ever once publicly mentioned any concern whatsoever for the retirees whose lives are on the line here. Not once.

    For those who may have harbored some hope that previous Patriot actions to reach agreements with various organizations regarding environmental or other issues would mean that the company would live up to its obligations to provide some measure of assistance for retirees and widows whose lives are on the line, its time to think again.

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