CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP/KSDK) - The president of the United Mine Workers of America and nine other leaders have been arrested while protesting outside the St. Louis headquarters of Peabody Energy.
Peabody is one of the companies the union holds responsible for Patriot Coal's bankruptcy.
That bankruptcy jeopardizes pension and health care benefits for some 20,000 people, mostly in West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Current and former miners from those states rallied Tuesday at a federal building in St. Louis, then marched to Peabody headquarters and sat down in the street.
Spokesman Phil Smith says the 10 were charged with obstructing traffic.
Peabody Energy released the following statement Tuesday regarding the protests;
"The UMWA is fully aware that this is a matter solely between the union and Patriot Coal, and the proper process for deciding such issues is through the bankruptcy court. The UMWA retirees in question all worked for companies that are part of Patriot Coal. Peabody has lived up to its obligations and continues to do so.
"Patriot's launch only occurred after the UMWA signed off on the retiree benefit payment structure with which Patriot started as an independent company. In 2011, Patriot and the UMWA renegotiated a collective bargaining agreement and chose not to change this benefits structure.
"Patriot was highly successful following its launch more than five years ago; its market value more than quadrupled in less than a year.
"After Patriot became independent and before its bankruptcy, however, Patriot chose to make a major acquisition, went through the global financial crisis and effects of low-cost shale gas on coal demand, experienced EPA regulation that significantly raised environmental compliance costs, and saw metallurgical coal prices decline."
Information from: Charleston Daily Mail
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