File photo
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller says bankruptcy judge has done no favors for union miners.

CHARLESTON, W.Va.–Negotiations continued Thursday between the United Mine Workers Union and Patriot Coal one day after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge ruled Patriot could change its collective bargaining agreement with the union and benefits for retired miners.

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller called the judge’s ruling “a nice big gift” for the coal companies when he spoke with MetroNews Thursday.

Rockefeller said he agrees with the UMWA that Patriot was created by Peabody Coal in 2007 “for the purpose of taking away health care benefits and for the purpose of taking away pensions from miners who had been promised them,” Rockefeller said. “And from my point of view, from miners who were legally owed them.”

Patriot President and CEO Ben Hatfield said Wednesday for the coming days the company plans to operate under its current UMWA contracts.

“Patriot management will continue diligent negotiations with the UMWA leadership to address their concerns about our court-approved proposals,” Hatfield said.

He added Patriot hopes for a resolution with the union that is “the best possible outcome for all parties.”

“It (Patriot Coal) was made for the purpose of taking away health care benefits and for the purpose of taking away pensions from miners who had been promised them,” U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller.

Sen. Rockefeller says he “detests” the judge’s decision.

“It was the wrong decision,” he said.

Patriot says it wants to implement a plan that will get the company out of bankruptcy and save 4,000 jobs. The UMWA says the retiree benefits part of the decision will impact more than 22,000 retirees, their surviving spouses and dependents. The union says many of the retirees never worked for Patriot.


bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • zero tolerance

    I'm not sure why Jay Rock is so upset. All miners who got bent by their union still have ObamaCare. Not sure what all the fuss is about.

  • To The Raleigh

    I would encourage anyone reading this to stop blaming republicans or democrat's for this sad condition these union members find themselves.
    Although, there is certainly a lot of blame to go around, situations like this need to serve as a wake up call to everyone. Do not simply put your trust in someone else i.e the unions or a business and especially our government. You will be let down every time! Instead be accountable for your own actions. If you work for a non-union company or are a member of a union, take steps to save money and make plans for just this type of situation to occur. This is not the first time and will not be the last time someone was PROMISED something they did not receive. And before we ask our government to step in and make things better, remember what Thomas Jefferson said " A government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have."

    • Concerned

      Finally, someone with a brain. Nice comment instead of just blaming or whatever. I just wonder how much screaming there'd be on here by the same people if the gov filed for bankruptcy and stopped all social sec payments. Food for thought.

  • Concerned

    I read lots of anti union rants on here by what I'm thinking are from people who aren't coal miners. I don't comment too often but these comments have hit a nerve. I don't like to generalize but many republicans call Obama a socialist. Fine, that's fair. But what do you call it when workers have no rights, and companies can screw hundreds if not thousands of people out if something to line the pockets of a few? I call it communism. Thanks & shame on all of you who have the nerve to preach without walking in their shoes. Have a good day.

    • zero tolerance

      "Communism" now there the latest comment straight off the back of a union rhetoric card.

  • Bob

    Just the kind of responses that you would expect from the Metronews gang...blame Obama for the dirty acts of Patriot coal. I hope that Patriot coal is able to pull this circus stunt off only because it is going to pave the way for every flag waving, anti union, so called conservative idiot to loose their health care and retirement too. The unions created the middle class of the United States and it has been under attack since Ronald Reagan...funny thing...Reagan was a union member until they helped make his first million...then he became a greedy, money grubbing Republican.
    The people who really don't remember, are the same people who forget what working conditions in this country was like before the unions...many union members died so you can enjoy your non-union benefits...but that's okay..because when there are no unions left to fight for workers rights...then they will be coming for your benefits too....for crying out a West Virginia history book.

    You people are as sad as you are funny.

  • Jim N Charleston

    Apparantly someone should tell Jay, Cecil, & the retired UMWA members affected by the honorable judge's ruling that President Obama and the Democrats in Congress passed the Affordable Healthcare Act, so there is nothing to fear!! Everything & everyone will be taken care of by the Federal Government!!!!

  • Tim C

    Hey Steve, Reagan saved this country! Do you not remember the disaster that was Jimmy Carter? Maybe you are too young to remember it but I sure do. Moderate republicans (democrat lite I call them) and the left wing kooks that are the democrats are destroying this nation! Elect conservatives, that's the only way to right this ship.

    • GregG

      Wake up Alice.

  • steve

    This Country has never gotten back on its feet since Ronald Reagan..and its sinkng fast under the Democrats as well....................

  • Ralph

    Jay knows all about gifts. He has lived off of his daddy's money or the taxpayers money all of his life.

  • Joe

    So Senator, do something about it then than just talking to Hoppy. Force a Senate investigation, and secure an emergency injunction from the Supreme Court so that the legality of this can be determined once and for all.

    Now that when the miners of WV truly need your help, you will stop at only words? Pathetic and cowardly!

  • Tim C

    Since the rest of us are forced on the Obamacare train to disaster, the UMWA ought come along for the ride. I don't like the way Patriot did this but you union jerks forced their hand.

    • derek

      How by honoring the contracts working for what was agreed upon. This company is making a killing off the workers they need to be held accountable for their lack of responsibility to the miners who made them rich.

  • CaptainQ

    A "nice big gift?" Yeah, like all those wrapped 'gifts' Jokey Smurf was always giving out. Y'know, the kind that EXPLODE when you try to open them?

    What Peabody Coal did in forming Patriot Coal though 'legal', wasn't fair to all those retirees that never worked one day for the new company. This was a worse 'accounting shuffle' than the 1990 'bankruptcy' of WV Blue Cross when they were allowed to form a BRAND NEW company and simply forced all the doctors, hospitals and claimants to 'eat' all the 41 million of debts the OLD Blue Cross company had.

    Whether it's by 'Patriot Coal' or Blue Cross it's often the people of WV that get DOUBLE CROSSED by big companies with the FULL BLESSING of the courts/government. No wonder people have a natural mistrust for big business in the Mountain State!

  • DWL

    Who cares what carpetbagger Jay has to say! He doesn’t even know the way to get back to WV from inside the beltway. Besides, he’s in a rear-ended lip lock with the mystical O and the EPA GestapO. When you bank on a liberal union, you die by the gluttonous union!

  • DonaldH

    So the Union Members shouldn't have to be included in on Obama-Care like they helped force on the rest of us? BS!! and GregG, I'm not sure how old you are but I will tell you I sure had far better gainful employment during the Reagan years than the years with the idiot before him-- If you are an active UNION member then you are a POX this country!! PERIOD!!

  • tramroad28

    I would say that WVa gave the carpetbagger a large gift many years's a luxury that Rockefeller can pick and choose gifts to accept or denigrate.

    But, I expect that Peabody has a dirty hand or two in this particular deal.
    Still...good for the judge in calling out all the Union and everyone else.
    Bet Cecil has a headache.

  • GregG

    Gift hell, its called Reaganomics!