WASHINGTON, D.C. — West Virginia’s U.S. House delegations is taking steps to protect employee benefits impacted by the Patriot Coal bankruptcy. 

Rep. David McKinley, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. Nick Rahall and 14 bipartisan colleagues introduced the Coal Mine Health Care and Pension Protection Act of 2013.

The bill would protect health care provisions and pensions that are impacted by the Patriot Coal Company.

In a statement released Thursday Congressman McKinley said the bill is needed.

“After hearing the stories of what these men and their families face if they lose their benefits, it was clear that we had to find a solution.”

Ever since Patriot Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy , United Mine Workers of America union members have held numerous rallies in protest against the proceedings.

“The goals of this legislation, to ensure that our coalminers can access the benefits they were promised, are similar to those of the CARE Act which I introduced earlier this year and I am happy to lend my support to this bill as well,” said Rep. Rahall in a statement. “This effort is about standing up for coal miners, their widows, and our coalfield communities.”

The UMWA claims Patriot was intentionally set up to fail by Arch Coal and Peabody by dumping their long held pension and retiree healthcare obligations onto the newly formed company.

In her own statement released Thursday, Rep. Capito said it’s not right that the workers should lose their benefits.

“We have worked diligently together to craft legislation that addresses the most pressing issues retirees are facing as a result of Patriot Coal Company’s bankruptcy,” said Rep. Capito in her statement. “These hardworking coal miners have dedicated their lives to providing electricity to the Mountain State and building its economy, and we cannot let them down. I will continue to fight for our coal miners and the retirees whose benefits are at risk.”

In the meantime, negotiations continue between Patriot and the UMWA.

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  • Jonny Crytzer

    There are approximately 23,000,000 government workers in the USA, and some of you are bitching about your tax dollars going to hard working people! That's laughable!

  • Roger Ingram

    The coal miner has been around for a long time sheding his blood with family constantly fighting for a desent living for his toil and sweat deep in the earth at times . His work never appreciated all that much. Although America owes much to these men who made the black gold come out of the ground for our nation to power it into greatness and a super power if we the people of today can find new ways to do what he has done for us we'll prosper too.Think of all the modern conveniences you have as you switch them on and imagine a world without and you'll begin to see the coal miner,s importance TO US in the U. S. A. HE'S help make it happen years ago and his decendants are still doing it today. Buying us time to move on to the next big energy resource. then the fight starts all over, ITS INFINITE.... FROM A CITIZEN FIRST A COAL MINER FOREVER. KEEP YOUR PROMISE PEABODY COAL COMPANY, WE DID! u.m.w.a. miner.

  • what happened to WV

    Scott you are right on! It seems that a lot of people are wanting our government to be socialistic. I have friends that live in Canada and they pay close to 50% taxes. My grandfather was a coal miner who retired in 1971 and said that unions have outlived their purpose many years before that. We as taxpayers should not have to pay a dime for another company. I was told when I was in high school in the late 80s to take care of your own retirement, because nobody else will. The sense of entitlement kills me and it is coming from a lot of different generations now. I love WV and love the people of WV! I lived out of state and moved back here and I am proud to be from here!

  • Hubert

    I am one of the patriot retires . I worked 36 yrs for Peabody (patriot) coal. The United States government set up the court system in favor of the corporate greed jerks. I was promised these benefits in contract negotiations for life. But the government let them out of there promises. So now let the government (tax payers pay for it) yes call you elected officials
    about this injustice .

    • Scott

      So your union and company screwed you I get it still don't think taxpayers should pay it I'm a coal miner the worst Job I every had was Guyan and been promised everything under the moon don't think everybody in USA owes me.So you going to tell us how much your union has stashed in that strike fund.

      • Colette Martin

        Well, well, well Mr. Scott I agree the government should not have to take care of then coal miners. Peabody Coal should keep their end of the contract. But at the same time, the government is taking care of the senators, congressmen, presidents, public aid recipients, SSI recipients, food stamp recipients. At least the coal miners have worked many years and paid into the government for what they are hoping to recieve if Peabody does not have the morality to do what is right.

  • Scott

    I'm still waiting to see why union members think all taxpayers somehow are supposed to provide them with health care because their union won't.I mean Ireally do believe your being done wrong by the corps and especially your union but don't see why you think taxpayers should pay for it.Why don't you have those same feelings for all taxpayers.

    • Colette Martin

      If this were the 60s, 70s, or even 80s every coal mine in this country would have come out on strike and that may still happen. I just hope it does not get violent as it has in the past. And now it is not only the UMWA rallying you have many more unions involved. If they wanted to and I am NOT saying they will or do they could shut this country down. All because Peabody Coal and Arch Coal did not want to honor their contracts.

  • Big Easy

    Arch and Peabody has to much money to buy off the courts and judges to allow this. People seem to forget Don Blankenship and his judge on vacation in europe. Dee hit the nail on the head. Change the bankrupcy law.

  • Joe

    Of course, they could sell the boat, atv, hunting cabin and third truck....invest it....and supplement their pension and hc that way.

    Wonder how many of these clowns walked on their promise to their wife and kids? You, know, for better or worse, good times and bad, etc.

  • Marc Antony

    Taxpayers pick up the tab are you kidding me, These congress clowns get special pension and healthcare benefits and the taxpayers are picking up the tab. I deserve my promised healthcare a hell of a lot more than these clowns. Politico headline: Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy — their health care tab is not going to soar next year.

    • Colette Martin

      Plus they get to keep their full salary for life.

      • Colette Martin

        I was a federal employee. I wish I had got to keep my salary for life. I was an RN at the local VAMC.

    • Scott

      You paid it in to the union which should supply it I agree with you on that. But I as a nonunion miner don't want to pay for yours because your union won't.Now if the government is going to pay yours they should pay all miners period.You have how many millions of dollars in your strike fund that your not even allowed to use seems like a very good place to get your healthcare paid for but Ole Cecil never even mentions that

  • Diane

    Please pay attention. The Coal Miners worked for their benefits. They are not entitlements. While Cecil Roberts is a charismatic speaker he doesn't think for our elected representatives. Our miners deserve what they worked for. Some if you who responded to this post need to learn the facts.

    • Colette Martin

      Go to the UMWA home page and there is a timeline that lays it all out for you. This agreement goes back to the 1920s.

  • Dee

    It is a shame that the bankruptcy laws allow loopholes where large companies and corporations to spin off a smaller company in order to get rid of their liabilities (the working man). The company and the employees bargain, and the workers are promised healthcare and then the companies want to skip out on that promise, and throw the people out to the side. Whereas the large companies ceo's make millions and millions of dollars and then they shuffle the papers around to make it look like they are losing money! The bankruptcy laws NEED to be changed! The large companies NEED to be held responsible for their evil doings and wasteful spending!

    • GregG

      That is how things work today. See, big business owns our government, so they get to "make the rules". The next step will be going back to paying employees in scrip and making them spend it at the "company" store and hospital. Trickle, Trickle!!! Reagan lives on.

      • Colette Martin

        Yes they do but who let this happen? Wake up people! We let this happen. And until we get these worthless people both Democrat and Republican out of office it is going to continue to happen. 90% of our congress and senate needs to go sit on their front porch and contemplate getting their head out of their a---. They have not passed anything this year. They cannot agree on anything. Why should having money give them the right to decide for everyone. There are more middle class and poor than rich. Wake up!!!!!!!!

  • Vito

    bulldog95 DREAM ON ALICE !

  • bulldog95

    How about something in place that prevents a company from spinning off a company where they inherit a bunch of liability but little to no assets and then file bankruptcy. If the claim is correct then make Arch and Peabody take Patriot back.

    • Colette Martin

      BRAVO!! BRAVO!! That is what the judge should have done had she not had her head so far up someone's you know what!!

  • Luke

    This is so much BS it isn't funny. So where does the taxpayers' responsibility to save the pensions of coal miners, government workers, and other private sector workers end?

    Are we going to bail out every entity that finds itself in financial difficulty? Do government officials and private sector management have no responsibility to offer benefits which their organization can afford to pay?

    If you are reading this Ms. Capito, keep in mind that you can be replaced too. I'm not sure who is advising you on this issue, but you need to rethink this proposal.

    • steve

      Get over it,Do you have any idea how much we as coal miners pay taxes?And my father paid em for fourty years and is set to lose his medical benifits at the end of the month.That my friend is B.S!!!

      • Luke

        If your father worked for 40 years he is covered by Medicare for around $300 a quarter and can purchase a supplemental policy for $123.00 a month just like everyone else over 65.

        What is truly BS is that you think other people should pick up the tab for your pension and your medical coverage.

        The taxpayers of this country owe you and your union members nothing.

        • Julie

          When you can find a supplemental insurance for someone over the age of 65 years old for $123 dollars that has pre existing conditions that has had the same insurance since they have retired from the mines that they worked in from the age of 12 than you let me know. When you are 76 years old and work your entire life to expect to retire and get something in return it is a shame to have that taken away from you as well. My father-in-law was and forever will be a coal miner he is entitled to the retirement and insurance he worked for and earned. Union or not when given a retirement package this is what you expect after years of service. My father worked in a paper mill for 47 years, yes union, he had at retirement 1 year of insurance and nothing offered after that, so it really does not matter whether you are union or not. It simply depends on what a company and a union want to do you for and what a union wants to do for their employees. Obviously, Luke you need to understand two things you as a taxpayer pay in to Medicare and secondly union members pay in to their own unions so you are simply contradicting yourself since you fell the tax payers should not fit the bill for others by stating that those over 65 can live off of Medicare, isn't that your money too? Simply thought I would give you that bit of information because I would say by the time we are ready to retire there may not be any social security at all that at least I know I have paid into to get back!!! I wouldn't want you to feel bad asking for the government to help you out!!!

          • Colette Martin

            You are wasting your breath with these people. They do not have a clue. If they are so upset about the taxpayer money, then they should be out on the ralley lines with the everyone else telling Peabody, Patriot, and Arch they should be paying this. They are the ones that rec'd the money to pay the pensions and healthcare. The miners agreed and accepted less wages and smaller pensions in order to have healthcare for life and these coal companies agreed to this. Now that the retirees kept their end of the contract, the coal company wants to renig on their end. H--- yes the work has been done and the money rec'd so lets screw the worker. Company presidents, CEOs, CFOs, etc they are getting millions of dollars in bonuses. Ben Hatfield has only been with Patriot since 2012 and has already rec'd $2.97 million in wages. Now tell me how that is fair. Give all the white collar workers millions but screw the retirees out of their measley little pensions and I mean to tell you they are measley and their healthcare. These miners only earned $15-16 an hour how is that for the big wages they always said the coal miners made. They worked 10-12hr days 6-7 days a week that is how they made any money. They had to if they had a family. Shame on you, shame on you Peabody Coal and Arch Coal. #1 and #2 Coal Companies in the world. And shame on you Patriot for going along with them. Karma is a b---- and you never know what it will be or when it will come. Just remember that!

          • linda

            VERY WELL SAID WHEN U SEE THESE MINERS that have worled all yhier life to provide for thier families and provide coal for your electricity if it wasnt for the coal miners where would we be IN THE DARK they deserve what they worked for my husband is a employee of blackoak and has come home to where all u see is the whites of his eyes and coughs all the time and somedays cant even stand up straight but he still goes out to work everyday there is necer a day that has went by tgat he didnt go to work because of the way he feels he knows that thats the way it is you go on working so they can keep the lights on my husband roof bolts and thats a very dangerous job and i hope when he gets to retire that he gets what he has worked for i am one that looks up to all coal miners retired and working they put their life on the line so we can have electricity and i strongly agree all coalminers deserve what they work for I LOVE AND SUPPORT ALL COALMINERS KEEP ON MINING THAT COAL THATS WHY GOD PLACED IT HERE ON THIS EARTH NOT JUST TO LOOK AT THERES A REASON HE PUT IT HERE IN THESE MOUNTAINS SO WE COULD HAVE ELECTRICITY AND STEEL

  • Vito

    One must ask the question of why would Rep. David McKinley, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. Nick Rahall use their time and energy to introduce a bill to protect "COAL" miners pensions ???? The only answer is they are buying the votes of "COAL" miners !

    Don't these West Va. elected know that a 1974 ERISA law protects "all" private pensions where companies go bankrupt ??? Where was these elected "asses" when many other companies went bankrupt in West Virginia ?? All this is about, when the UMW 's "Mouth" Cecil Roberts speaks West Virginia elected say How Hi Cecil ?? But as time goes by "King Koal" will lose out . Marcellus Natural Gas Is The New Energy For West Virginia !

    • Pragmatic

      Vito, you ask the right questions and you know the rules. Our WV Delegation have shown for decades (both parties) that buying votes with other people's money is the name of the game. One thing for certain, our guys have well honed skills in this practice. Understand that they have business cards with this headliner, "Have vote, will travel." Did you note how quickly McKinley adapted after his election?

  • AX MAN

    This means that they want the tax payers to pick up the tab.

    • what happened to WV

      That was exactly what I was thinking. We are hurting as tax payers. The government is the largest employer in the US, esp., when you consider how much we pay to support everybody who lives off the government.

      • Jonny Crytzer

        *correction: We helped pay for the toilet paper to wipe your ass!