Members of the United Mine Workers Union are expected to be out in large numbers in St. Louis Tuesday and they are not expected to be on their best behavior.
“We will be there and I expect there will be some civil disobedience,” said UMWA President Cecil Roberts. “Including me.”
The union will be there to continue an ongoing fight with Patriot Coal Company and its parent organizations Arch Coal and Peabody Coal companies. The union continues to protest financial maneuvers which it claims were made by Arch and Peabody to escape obligations of health care and retirement benefits to retirees.
“People involved here, they never worked a day for Patriot. They retired from Peabody or Arch,” said Roberts in a recent appearance on MetroNews Talkline. “Now they’re being told because some other company is going out of business, they lose their benefits. That just can’t be right.”
Patriot Coal is currently in bankruptcy proceedings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. A status hearing is set for Tuesday in federal court in St. Louis. The UMWA motioned for a change of venue and was successful in moving the proceedings from Manhattan Federal Court to St. Louis. The union would rather have had the proceeding in Charleston, near the coalfields.
Roberts and the union claim Patriot Coal was established by Arch and Peabody with the sole goal of bankruptcy and a shedding of their past obligations to retirees.