Peabody Energy protest

1:19 PM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Amid protests, the head of Peabody Energy spoke to NewsChannel 5 Wednesday.

Protestors say the bankruptcy proceedings are jeopardizing retirees' pension and health care benefits.

Hundreds of mine workers from across the country are marching on Peabody Coal because of what they're calling a "shell game." They say the pension and health care benefits of more than 20,000 retirees and dependents are at risk.

Union leaders say Arch and Peabody orchestrated business deals that bankrupted Patriot Coal.

Patroit was spun off by Peabody in 2007 and is currently going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A spokesperson from Peabody says workers were aware of its relationship with Patriot and had nothing to do with its failure.

"With all due respect, all of these companies work for subsidiaries of Patriot Coal. They did not work for Peabody Energy, they worked for subsidaries that are a part of Patriot Coal. It's the bankruptcy court that will decide the future obligations for patriot," said Vic Svec, Senior Vice President of Peabody Energy.

David M. Marzullo, Director of Public Information for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, says 10 people were arrested for failure to obey the reasonable direction of a police officer, and issued summonses.

Here is Peabody Energy's entire statement from Svec in response to claims by the United Mine Workers of America:
"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."

KSDK

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