The United Mine Workers of America refuses to sit by during bankruptcy proceedings for Patriot Coal.   Union members staged a demonstration outside of the federal bankruptcy court in St. Louis Tuesday, then marched to the headquarters of Peabody Coal. 

“Corporations pay lawyers a lot of money to figure out how to do things like this,” said UMWA President Cecil Roberts speaking to the St. Louis media ahead of Tuesday’s rally. “This might somehow end up being legally correct, but it’s morally corrupt.”

Roberts was led away from Peabody Coal headquarters in handcuffs along with several other union members after refusing to leave.  It was civil disobedience Roberts promised well before the event.  He and the UMWA are fighting the bankruptcy of Patriot which threatens the retirement health care benefits of thousands of retired UMWA members.   The miners threatened by the settlement never worked for Patriot Coal, but instead retired after spending their careers working for Peabody Coal and Arch Mineral.  

Roberts says Patriot was a spin-off company designed with the expressed purpose of carrying the legacy obligations promised by Peabody and Arch to their retirees.     The move, according to Roberts, made Arch and Peabody among the largest and most profitable coal companies in America and burdened Patriot with costs it could never hope to cover.    

The future of the retirees now lies with the decision of a bankruptcy court.

“People may say, ‘Well gee, the bankruptcy judge did A or the bankruptcy judge did B.’  but that’s not the issue with us,”  Roberts said. “The issue with us is justice and fairness and what’s right and what’s wrong.  And this is wrong.”

Roberts called Tuesday’s protest in St. Louis the beginning and promised the union would be back repeatedly until they are given what they were promised by the two companies.

“When coal miners say they’ll never forget……they don’t,”  Roberts said.

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  • m

    I don't here Capito saying any think on Capital Hill

  • Ron

    This will be a shame if our government leaders stands by and let's Peabody get by with this. If this happens this will just be a stepping stone for corporate greed across this great nation to do the same against thousands more people.Don't forget the very people who help build this country. I am disappointed that i do not to see other union leaders more active with this fight. Where is Rich Trumpka? We need all unions to make a stand. God bless Cecil and the UMWA.

  • Keefe

    How can a company pay for health care with out money? I thought Obama who is supported by the unions is taking care of all our health care. He is not a friend of coal. Maybe there is reason mining companies are going bankrupt.Could it be the only economy the democrats know is socialism economy. Which means they have to drive it down so they can rule. The Communist in the white house is doing a good job of doing just that. The government has regulated people out of business. That you can lay the true blame.

  • polarbear

    We need to figure a way to get all these carpet baggers out of our state. Im sick and tired of the way big coal screws over the hardworking people of this great state.

  • GregG

    But when election time rolls around, this state runs to vote for the very party that supports these types of actions and has strived for years to bust all Unions.

  • MaryL

    I'm not a big fan of unions, but I am of coal miners. I support you guys and your 'civil disobedience' and that this is so morally wrong. Other large corporations make business moves like this and rape their faithful workers ... it's time for good men to make a stand.

  • Derek

    They will take us into custody for petty charges but Peabody can break contracts and dissolve payments and no one goes to jail. If they are broke how can they afford highestwages inthe coal industry. These men abided by the contracts thrust the years now Peabody and Patriot needs to pay this is bull just a bunch of bull.

  • Mike

    Amen Shinnstonguy amen!

  • ShinnstonGuy

    Right now they sleep well at night in their mansions, but on the day of reckoning they will have a lot of explaining to do to St. Peter.

  • Derek McIntyre

    Yeah buddy Cecil! Speak the truth! UMWA, CWA supports your efforts!

  • Mike

    Thank God for the UMWA. While President Roberts and others may have been arrested today, the real criminals here is Peabody Coal and Arch Coal.

    I don't know how they sleep at night robbing these hard working men and women from their promise of cradle to grave health care. They came to WV, mined our coal, broke our backs then took the money and ran.

    Shame on you!

  • steve

    Not a fan of Cecil Roberts but he's absolutely right on this one. What Peabody did should absolutely be criminal.

  • Kenneth G Williams

    I would be right there with these guys if it was not for having to work so i can pay for insurance. I had 18 years in the miones when it went bankrupt and had to find other employment outside the mines to support my family. These big coal companies just like mine don't give a big hoot about the men who has made them all of their money so the UMWA needs to keep fighting and fighting to get these men their pensions and insurance. I just wished that the UMWA had the 20 year working down to at least 15 years so coal miners that got laid off due to bankruptsey could at least get insurance to cover their families.

  • Dave Jackson

    "Whose side are you on son, whose side are you on.....".

    Give 'em heck, fellers!