As the United Mine Workers of America protested in Fairmont, West Virginia’s representatives in Washington wanted to let them know they were standing behind them.
The rally brought in more than 25 buses filled with UMWA miners protesting the cuts to benefits and pay as a result of Patriot Coal’s bankruptcy. Negotiation attempts between the UMWA and Patriot have not yet been completed to the satisfaction of both parties, though a bankruptcy judge recently ruled Patriot Coal could proceed with its plan to escape bankruptcy.
“We’re going to stand up for the health benefits that were promised to these retirees,” said L.U. 9909 President Mike Payton in a news release sent the day before the rally. “Sometimes people forget we had to fight every step of the way to win decent conditions and good pay for miners. In case there are any mine operators out there who think we’re not willing to keep fighting, here’s a suggestion: Think again.”
The UMWA asserts that Patriot Coal was spun-off from its progenitor company Peabody Coal with the intention to fail. The union also levies some responsibility on Arch Coal, which sold a number of its assets that were later purchased by Patriot Coal.