One day after the United Mine Workers brought their fight against Patriot, Peabody, and Arch Coal back to Charleston in the form of a massive rally, Patriot has released its own response.
On Tuesday, Patriot Coal released a fact sheet to local media outlets concerning the details behind their current labor proposal to the union.
In the release, Patriot stated that the current proposal is not aimed at “throwing out” the collective bargaining agreement.
Patriot says its looking to modify union employees’ wages and benefits so that they are in line with the regional labor markets and with non-union workers who do the same jobs at other Patriot operations.
The Union is adamantly opposed to Patriot’s current bankruptcy proceedings which they say threatens to cutoff retirement healthcare and pension benefits promised in previous contracts by Arch and Peabody.
In the release, Patriot said it’s not proposing to eliminate healthcare or pensions for UMWA retirees, but rather allow for continued healthcare coverage for union retirees at a level that Patriot can afford.
In addition, the release added that Patriot’s current proposal for union retiree benefits is not capped at $15 million or $300 million. The company wants to create a VEBA trust that would be controlled by the UMWA or the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds.
Also in the current proposal, Patriot said the Coal Act and Black Lung beneficiaries will continue to receive their current benefits. They also added that they have filed a lawsuit against Peabody Energy to make sure they don’t use the bankruptcy to reduce their own obligations to retirees.
Since the beginning of the bankruptcy proceedings, the UMWA has blamed Peabody and Arch coal companies for forming Patriot with a design to fail.
Patriot stated that they are merely facing two alternatives, either obtain crucial modifications to collective bargaining agreements with the Union that would allow the company to stay afloat and provide jobs or face likely liquidation.
The company said in the release that failing to make any changes in UMWA employee costs and retiree medical coverage would simply force Patriot into liquidation.