HENDERSON, Ky. — United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts told a large crowd in Kentucky Tuesday the UMWA won’t back down in the face of a federal bankruptcy judge’s ruling.

“I don’t give a damn what that judge did,” Roberts railed to a roar of applause. “We march today.  We stand today not because we want more money, we want justice today.”

The large crowd packed the courthouse lawn of the small western Kentucky town in a rally similar to those the union has staged numerous times in St. Louis and Charleston, W.Va. But it was the first rally since Judge Kathy A. Surratt-States, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, ruled Patriot could break the present collective bargaining agreement with the UMWA.

Roberts, told MetroNews Talkline this week, negotiations have been ongoing and continue in hopes of finding a solution. Roberts said the present arrangement leaves 22,000 retirees facing loss of pension and health care benefits. He placed the blame squarely at the feet of Peabody Coal and Arch Coal Company.

“We’ve also got to figure out some way to take our claim on behalf of these pensioners, turn it into cash to pay health care bills, at the same time we’re reaching an accommodation with Patriot,” he said on Talkline.

In her ruling, Judge Surratt-States encouraged the union not to strike the company. Roberts told MetroNews for the time being a strike would be “high risk” since it could put Patriot out of business. But during Tuesday’s fiery rhetoric, Roberts hinted a strike may not be out of the question against other players.

“Whenever we get the numbers to where they can’t ignore us. When we get to marching and we get to protesting, if we have to we’ll sit down in front of Peabody’s coal mines,” Roberts shouted to the crowd in Henderson.

Soon after the rally ended, the gathered throng once again marched to the local courthouse and 14 union members including Roberts, sat down in another show of civil disobedience. Law enforcement again arrested those who refused to move in their non-violent demonstration.

Roberts called the demonstration a growing movement. He said the fight had grown beyond the coal industry and the corporate move which created Patriot could happen in any other industry if allowed to stand.


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  • Roger

    West Virginia, last in everything, sorry Matt. West Virginians are people, who put morals at the top of the list. People from W.Va. look at people in the eye and shake a person's hand, such as yourself and and ask you, do you make promises you can't keep.
    I am assuming your father, who has worked day in and day out to provide you with many amenities as you were growing up. Probably never telling you of the many Dangers he faced , daily, to send you to college, because he never ever wanted you , his son to work in the mines. How many times did he tell you that, I have did the same with my kids. The union mining industry allowing me, by progessive wages and benefits to allow my children to have a different opportunity than I had as a young father.
    Sounds to me, as a WEST VIRGINIA resident and a retired Union Miner, you have forgotten just how hard Miners, such as your father worked to put bread on the table and give children such as yourself another, different opportunity in life.
    MORALS, West Virginian's and Union Miners around this great country have an abundance of Morals. We work as a group, we fight and have honor for our Union.
    The moral of this is, we are only as good as our word. If a man or Company cannot live up to his or their word, then they are liars and unrespectable.
    There is a quote, " Tis better to keep your mouth quiet and appear foolish than to open it and Prove it." I would suggest that you,do this, in respect for your father !

  • cathey

    You know Matt, all i have to say is think whatever you want to think about the union, apparently your not a supporter--but the fact of the matter is that 22,000 men and women are going to be without their insurance and their pensions, these people will lose their homes, go hungry and most importantly die without treatment of the very thing that the coal mines will forever give to them and not take back--its called Black Lung!!!! they need what they were promised to survive and this is not only to you Matt but for all non believers of the UMWA union and what it stands for--MAY GOD FORGIVE YOU AND MAY HE GIVE YOU A LITTLE REMORSE AND HALF A HEART TOWARD THESE MEN AND WOMEN THAT HAVE SACRIFICED SO MUCH OF THEMSELVES SO THAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND I MAY BE ABLE TO SEE AT NIGHT, I may not be the brightest person on this earth and i surly don't claim to be but what I do know is that I am scared to death for all in general, I know that my parent's are going to lose everything that they have and that my father was crushed in the coal mines and will lose his health insurance, does he deserve this??? I beg to tell you that NO he does not and neither does any of these men and women. MAY GOD BLESS YOU MATT I'LL BE PRAYING FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY THAT YOU MAY NEVER HAVE TO ENDURE WHAT THESE POEPLE ARE GETTING READY TO FACE.

    • Matt

      First off...this is the real Matt. I didn't post the Klan comment. Ax Man said it best. The money used for union dues could have been placed into an account for an individual retirement. With the current laws on the books, ALL unions are just a front to forward a socialist agenda. The majority of americans are anti unions, so I guess my comments won't matter in WV. Roberts comments are pointless "I don't give a damn what that judge said"...that will really change the outcome won't it.

      Look at the private sector. Non union employees have better retirement, 401K and especially job security. Then look at the guys, including my father who works for patriot, now they are all looking for a means after promises by the same UMWA they supported. Their only fallback is to work till they day or strike, which we all know fixes everything. This is why WV ranks last in everything.


  • Larry

    Does anyone know if an angry protest march has ever actually accomplished anything?

  • Ax Man

    You guys that are in a unions, should do it on your own. Put your dues in the bank, not in the unions, get your health care programs going, your employers will help with this, then you have full control, if you are worried about being mis-treated by your employer, there are enough labor laws on the books (Federal and State) to put the employer in jail for life, all you have to do is report the mis-treatment. My Dad worked in the mines from 1907 to 1963, I am quite familiar the unions.

  • Matt

    Since these guys can't march at Klan rallies anymore, this gives them something to march about.

    • cathey

      and by the way when did this become racial? Klan are you kidding me?

  • Smitty

    You are a joke not President Roberts or the union. You are what is wrong with our country. Sad, very sad.

    • Matt

      So I'm the problem huh? I have a good retirement and salary that is secured through private investments. I won't be collecting a check from the state anytime soon or when I retire...I guess that makes me a problem. A huge burden to everyone. I'll probably have to support my father now thanks to "President" Roberts.

      When all this is over, I would assume "President" Roberts will still have his pension, retirement and will live far beyond the means of the miners he represent. The same money supported by the same UMWA dues all these guys dumped money into. That's the way it works right? Or will "President" Roberts forgo all of this to join in the hardhships of his union brothers.

      Ever hear of a Pyramid Scheme.

      Give me your money, sorry about your luck.

      Wake up.

  • thornton

    "Big Brother" ...ironic word choice for a union supporter.


    To me, It's every man, woman that's retired from ANY Factory, Plant, Mine what have you with a pension. You know BIG BROTHER is watching the OUTCOME of this, Just licking their lips waiting to do away every DEFINED PENSION ACCOUNT and INSURANCE PROMISE ever made. Whether or not your stance is favorable of CECIL ROBERTS, The BIGGER PICTURE is what will happen to ALL THE OTHER PLAYERS, whomever at any location, MINE OR OTHERWISE!!!

  • Matt

    Roberts is a joke. His traveling three ring circus has brought a shame to miners from an outside view. I feel for the MINER's, I really do, but this whole mess is the work of the UMWA. The same UMWA that supported an anti coal presedential candidate. The same UMWA that calls for union dues from its members and strong arms the companies to agree to unrealistic benefits. The union mentality killed the retirements for thousands. With the Dept of Labor, MSHA and other federal agencies there is simply no need for this anymore.

    • Frances King

      Try working here on the planet without unions, Matt. You don't know what you're talking about, AND you can't spell president. It's easy to forget just what unions have done for this country. My father worked all of his life for E. I. DuPont and had excellent retirement and health benefits. He ALSO had enough sense to know that his good wage that supported his family was in part due to the fact that plants like DuPont took a look at plants like Carbide and decided that it was a hell of a lot easier to pay a decent wage than to wrangle with a union. They protected us all.

      • Matt

        I can spell presidential...I blame my fingers versus the BB for that one. My father is involved in this so I do know what I am talking about. For years I've heard him preach that the union will take care of his medical and retirement when he retires next year, then the next, then the next.....after 5 years of saying this he will still have to work. Unions have done great things, over the years (ex The Jungle by Upton Sinclair), but they're done now, its 2013 not 1913. I've worked for unions and the only thing they have done is take my monthly dues.

        I'd like to see what happens if I go into work tomorrow and tell them I'm going on strike or demand more benefits....