UMWA President Cecil Roberts and national AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka say the labor movement won’t go away until union miners and retirees are treated fairly in the Patriot Coal bankruptcy.

Both leaders gave fiery speeches at a rally and march Monday in Charleston. The crowd at the march was estimated at being close to 10,000.

The UMWA has been on a campaign against Patriot Coal since the company filed for bankruptcy. It blames Peabody and Arch coal companies for forming Patriot with a design to fail. The union says many of its retirees never worked for Patriot and now that company has control of their pension benefits. Patriot has filed a motion to break the current contract with the union.

Roberts and 15 other people were arrested on the steps of Laidley Tower in downtown Charleston. Patriot’s offices are in that building.

Before the march and arrests Roberts fired up the crowd that had union attendees from several states.

“This is a crime. We’ve been bamboozled, ripped off, robbed, tricked, lied to. This can’t stand,” Roberts said.

The AFL-CIO’s Trumka, a former UMWA president, vowed to stop what’s happening.

“Not this time. Not this time,” Trumka screamed. “And not these workers. We won’t allow them to take the money and run and not take the workers with them.”

Several West Virginia elected officials spoke to the crowd including U.S. Senator Joe Manchin who said there was no way for the coal companies to spin what’s happened.

“You can’t shine crap and by god this is crap,” Manchin said. “You can’t make this stuff look good. You can’t make it smell good and you sure as hell can’t make it taste good.”

Third District Congressman Nick Rahall urged the miners to keep fighting and West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said all workers are at risk if Patriot is allowed to get away with what it’s trying to do.

The UMWA had worked ahead of time with the City of Charleston and Charleston Police Dept. on the rally, march and arrests.

Peabody Coal has previously refuted the union’s “designed to fail” claim calling it a “desperate attempt to rewrite history.”

“A series of other unforeseen events affecting all coal producers followed – all on Patriot’s watch,” the company has said.

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  • Larry

    Sounds like some of these union guys just need to relax and take two mandatory paid 15 minute breaks and an hours paid lunch.

  • Bobby

    when I Think Of A Peice Of Crap Trumka An Bama are At The Top Of The Heap Right To Work

  • steve

    Furthermore this fight could possibly affect all of you chastizing our union.Patriot may well if not stopped set A precident for spinning off companys and dumping all there liabilities to retirees in with them washing their hands of liabilites.So we the members of the UMWA are putting up A fight, Are you next?

  • mountaineerforever

    Knew we couldn't get through a discussion without someone mentioning/blaming Obama. I hear he's responsible for the earthquake in Braxton County also.

  • Frac Man

    You are certainly entitled to the benefits that you worked for and those of us that have work ethic and love this country appreciate what you do. The problem lies with the criminals that are supposed to "represent" your interests. Oh they talk a good game and make a big production of how they feel for you, but all they care about is lining their pockets and securing their power. Everyone of those clowns is in bed with Obama and they represent you? That would be akin to Eichmann representing the Jews.

  • C. F. T.

    Sen. Manchin a couple months ago announced his desire to undermine the 2 nd. Amendment to the U S Constitution and today he denounced due process of the Judicial branch of government. Both times pandering to minor special interest groups, he needs to rember the majority elected him. Joe, principal and sworn honor can be your most valuable and perminent asset, not temporary friends like Socilist Unions, Chuck Shumer, George Soris, etc.

  • Luke

    Sen. Manchin, Rep. Rahall, and Secretary of State Tennant, all elected public officials and Democrats, participating in a mob demonstration conducted for the purpose of putting public pressure on a United States Bankruptcy Court to rule in favor UMWA members. Isn't that a nice image for West Virginia?

    If the UMWA or its individual members have a case, make it Court. If their claims are supported by the law, they will prevail. If they lose in Court, they need to find someone other than Peabody and Patriot to blame.

    Is it any wonder why Union membership in the private sector is around 7% of the workforce?

    • UMWA member Local 5958

      Yes this is a very good image that West Virginia needs to put out there ! If you do business in our state you will honor your agreed upon part ! Not try to run with all the money and not take care of the people that made you millions & billions ! Thanks to everyone that came out in support ! If your an elected official from the President of The United States all the way to the least among elected officials hope you stand up and speak out and do in your offices what ever you can do to make Patriot, Arch & Peabody coal or any other company honor their agreed upon contracts with their workers Health and other benifits that they have worked for! God bless the UMWA!!!

      • Luke

        If your Union bosses failed to protect you from the power of the US Bankruptcy Courts then maybe you should be yelling at the Union personnel that got you into this predicament. If under the pension and health care benefit agreements Peabody and Arch had the right to transfer those obligations without recourse or further liability to then you need to be marching on your Union headquarters. It is unfortunate that you may not get what your Union bargained for in your behalf, but it sounds to me as though they didn't do a very good job of protecting you despite your payment of Union dues all those years.

  • Frac Man

    While I feel sympathy for those that actually worked for their benefits, I can't help but look at the irony of Trumka, Roberts, and Manchin being like wolves representing the chickens in the coop. Unions function much like all Socialist organizations function, benefiting those few at the top on the backs of the workers. Never, ever join a Union as your are just bank rolling the criminals representing it.

    • steve

      Frac man, I Dissagree as a proud umwa member.My union protects and fights for all rank and file so you sir are wrong.Its not easy what we do,And the promise of these benefits on the back ends of our lives is A big reason we do what we do.Patriot and the other coal operators hold us as members to the contract,Meaning they would fire one of us for breaching anything in it so they should be held just as accountable!!!

  • Jim

    First, I agree with the miners, a promise is a promise. However,whatever Cecil has on his head (store-bought wig) wouldn't look anymore ridiculous if he had a chin strap on it. How can you take anyone that wears something that ridiculous serious? Will they let him wear it for his booking photo?
    And, then, King Joe has to interject himself into the fray with his unblieveable comment " you can't polish crap and this is crap." Real classy comment for a U.S. Senator, but it will get you union endorsements, campaign money and votes.

    • Jeremy 5958

      Patriot makes my abide by the contract we have everyday. Now patriot don't want to abide by the same contract. Double standard. Two faced. Like some of u idiots on here commenting on something u hAve no clue about. Easy to sit back and comment on it from a far u cowards. U should have been there. U could have seen the real people in wheel chairs on oxygen on walkers and canes. No u sit back like u always do and just complain instead of doing something COWARDS. This is about the worker. The retired and the active. WE ARE U-M-W-A.

    • Larry

      I am with you, and I think these union hacks are really turning off a lot of people with their over-the-top, maniacal speeches, they are out trying to drum up sympathy by screaming as though they are possessed by demons.

  • Woodchuck0

    What do call that a ceremonial arrest? More of the union dues going to lawyers.

    Why not give the miners some of their dues back to help them out?

    Joe gonna take your guns.

  • derek

    We were a the rally good to see all the unity. Nobody is asking for anything but what has been agreed upon. Proud to be UMWA.

  • thornton

    By the way....nice hat, Cecil.

  • thornton

    Sounds as though Patriot deserves the focus of the union angst...but the "screaming" and all the rest by the union bosses and political opportunists is usual.

  • GregG

    This is just another shinning example of what Big Business thinks of the working class! Sadly, if Ronald Reagan were to reappear, millions would fall to their knees and worship him and his "trickle down theory".

    • Gary

      It was not "trickle down" - it was "supply side theory" LOL

  • Roger

    Peabody is doing the same thing that Westmorland Coal Co. did several years ago and all your other big name coal co. and said they were going into business just selling coal.. And made up all these FLY BY NIGHT CO. Like Patriot Coal ,etc .So they could get out of these promises they made to the UMWA through all the contracts that were negotiated in good faith. It is a shame that all these Coal Miner have to still fight for what was promised to them. I wish the Leaders of this Great Nation would start standing up for us little people .Last Year these SO CALLED COAL SALE CO made over 300 Billion Dollars.selling coal and the ones mining this coal and the ones that are retired or disabled from working in the mines are the people that make these People Rich . I hope the Leaders of this Great Nation will get behind the UMWA and make these SO CALLED COAL CO. PAY UP LIKE THEY PROMISED!!!!