The United Mine Workers Union isn’t letting up in the their protest of Patriot Coal.  Monday, the union responded to motions by Patriot to break the current contract with the UMWA.   

The company seeks to eliminate the current agreement on health care benefits and move retirees into a Voluntary Employee Benefits Agreement.   Patriot proposed funding the VEBA with $15-Million.  UMWA President Cecil Roberts told reporters in St. Louis such action, if allowed, would effectively eliminate retiree health care since the current cost of the plan is $80-Million a year.

“We don’t care where the benefits come from as long as we have healthcare for these retirees,”  said Roberts who is adamant the retired miners and their widows will be taken care of at the end of the bankruptcy. “There will not be an agreement with the union that leaves the retirees without health care.  That’s a pretty bold statement, but I believe it’s the correct statement because someone owes these people health care.”

Roberts is also critical of attorney fees being paid by Patriotover the bankruptcy proceeding.

“They’re paying their lawyers $16-Million dollars and want to pay $7-Million in bonuses to people already making a lot of money,”  he said. “We’re fighting a battle against corporations that have more money than some countries.  We might be better off getting into a fight with Brazil than with Peabody and Arch.”

The union contended Patriot was initially set up as a spin-off company from Peabody Coal and Arch Coal as a way to shed massive liabilities for retiree health care and pensions.   Placing all of those liabilities on Patriot landed the company in bankruptcy.  UMWA leaders contend that was the plan all along.

“Folks who take a shower after work don’t get as much justice as folks who take a shower before they go to work.  I can tell you that,”  said Roberts.

Roberts said the goal is to draw attention to their plight.  He believes the repeated demonstrations are working and more are joining their side from many parts of the working community. 

“I believe we will win this case, because this was set up to fail.  I don’t care what that thousand-dollar-an-hour guy told you,”  Roberts told a reporter in St. Louis.

Union members plan another protest march in St. Louis Tuesday.  Roberts expected to be arrested for civil disobedience a second time in the gathering.  The union is also planning a large rally in Charleston April 1st with a march to Patriot’s headquarters in West Virginia. Union members expect to be arrested in that demonstration as well.


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  • jeff wilkes

    The co. Agreeded to pay health care to the retirees when they signed the contract with the union; they should be required to pay up.

  • michael

    if we lose this battle then all other companies will follow suit. if you dont like unions maybe you should move to china. unions built this country and now these companies are trying to strip us of all our rights. we are the ones making them millions and this is the thanks we get?

  • Bobby

    Right To Work

  • bulldog95

    Cecil needs to do little more than just say Patriot was a spinoff to dump expensive healthcare costs.
    Did Patriot end up with 25 mines where all 25 of them were set up to fail because costs were to much, leaving Peabody with 75 mines that are booming with little to no costs? Did those 25 mines have a bunch of people that were retired or near retirement compared to those that Peabody did not "spinoff."
    Enough grandstanding, give people details if you want true support.

    • steve

      The details are we work under A collectively bargained contract that says these benefits will be there when we retire.We have EARNED this.Its probably hard for alot of folks who dont go under the mountain to work to understand.The PROMISE of these benefits are A big reason we do what we doI!!!

  • mountaineer


  • Larry

    Imagine how expensive everything would be if everyone was union, it would be astronomical.


    This is EVERY UNION MAN'S FIGHT. If they succeed with PATRIOT, Everyone will use the same tactics, Wherever or Whoever they are. I say You need to get Political. Call write, Bombard your Representatives with Petitions. LET THEM HEAR LOUD, LET THEM HEAR IT PROUD!!!!

  • Old Miner

    Good luck Cecil you will need it But get ready for a upset . I fear you and your people will
    soon be just like the rest at the bottom of the food chain waiting on crums the only differents is we knew on one would be taking care of us ..

  • Keefe

    I thought Obama Care would take care of everyone's health care? Call all the politicians who you voted in and are ruining this country. Where are they now? They cut and run but the union will support them all next election.I bet the these people are glad they can fall back on the Union supported President;s Health Care plan. Bankruptcy will continue to reek havoc across the land and unions will continue to lose more benefits. You vote for the ones who tax and regulate people out of business.Then you want more money and benefits.

  • Larry

    I'm sorry, but it would be very hard for me to have a man represent me, and fight on my behalf, who wears a wig.

  • thornton

    “Folks who take a shower after work don’t get as much justice as folks who take a shower before they go to work. I can tell you that, said Roberts."

    Somebody got a raise when they came up with that gem!

  • joe