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Patriot Coal bankruptcy debate

11:42 PM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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 PDF Document: UMWAAd

St. Louis (KSDK) - As members of the United Mine Workers of America are planning another march and protest in downtown St. Louis, Peabody Energy is launching a new public campaign with its side of the story.

Right now, the UMWA is fighting to preserve health and retirement benefits threatened by Patriot Coal's bankruptcy.

The Patiot bankruptcy case is being heard at the federal courthouse in St. Louis.

Tuesday morning, Peabody Energy will run the following ad in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"The United Mine Workers of America  has been busy in St. Louis lately, attempting to rewrite the history of Patriot Coal. While demonstrations  make for lively visuals, there are a few questions for the union to answer:

Why did the UMWA go along with  the launch of Patriot Coal in 2007, when it now claims that Patriot was "designed to fail?"

The UMWA worked with Peabody and Patriot's management during the company's launch in 2007, even signing off on a key portion of the retiree healthcare benefits structure at the time. How can  the UMWA credibly claim that Patriot never stood a chance when it only started saying this after the company went bankrupt?

Why didn't the UMWA press for greater retiree benefit contributions from Patriot when the company was highly successful? 

Patriot's share price quadrupled within the company's first year and its market value far exceeded its liabilities.  If the UMWA really believed that Patriot had no chance of long-term success, why didn't it press for greater contributions then ... or when it negotiated a new labor agreement with Patriot Coal companies on behalf of its members in 2011?

Why is the UMWA suggesting that statutory black lung payments are at risk for its members?

The UMWA knows that The Black Lung Benefits Act provides for monthly payments and medical  treatment for those with black lung disease who qualify for benefits under the law. These payments and medical treatments are protected by law and will not be eliminated by Patriot's bankruptcy.

Why is the UMWA unwilling to accept that it is up to the bankruptcy courts to determine Patriot Coal's future?

Now that Patriot Coal has declared bankruptcy, the UMWA knows that Patriot's future is a matter for the bankruptcy courts and that the issue of retiree benefits is between Patriot at the UMWA.

Peabody lives up tio its obligations and we respect the legal process."

UMWA also ran an ad in the Post-Dispatch.  (See the PDF document attached to this article.)

Mine workers and their families will march at 10 a.m. Tuesday from Peabody Energy Headquarters to the Federal Courthouse. This will be their fourth march this year against Peabody Energy- which spun off Patriot Coal in 2007.

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