UMWA bringing thousands to protest Patriot bankruptcy plan - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UMWA bringing thousands to protest Patriot bankruptcy plan

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The United Mine Workers of America will flex its collective power, promising thousands of marchers for a Charleston protest.

The union is infuriated over Patriot Coal's attempt to shut down health care and other benefits in order to come out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The company argues that it needs to make the cuts to overcome bankruptcy.

The union also accuses Peabody Energy and Arch Coal of spinning the company off into Patriot with the intention to dispose of its assets. Peabody has maintained that it spun-off Patriot believing it would be a viable company.

"The executives at Peabody, Arch and Patriot thought they could pull a fast one by setting up companies that were designed to fail, declaring bankruptcy, all so they could evade their health care responsibilities to retired miners while slashing the wages and benefits of active workers," said UMWA President Cecil Roberts."

Protestors will come from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.  The protest begins at 8:30 a.m. on April 1 and will extend from the Charleston Civic Center to Patriot Coal headquarters at Laidley Tower.

"We could not be more proud of the support we've received from all over the country since this fight began," Roberts said. "April 1 will be a great day for miners and our supporters in Charleston – and a real warning to corporate executives who think they can take advantage of working people without any consequences.

"Rep. Rahall, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, W. Va. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka are scheduled to speak at the April 1 rally in Charleston.