Peabody wants court to affirm limits of obligations to Patriot - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Peabody wants court to affirm limits of obligations to Patriot

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Peabody Energy has asked the bankruptcy court hearing the Patriot Coal Chapter 11 reorganization to confirm the termination of its contractual obligation to fund some of Patriot's retirement benefits.

"Under Patriot Coal's new labor agreements with the (United Mine Workers of America), its obligation to pay healthcare benefits for its retirees will terminate by January 1, 2014," Peabody said in a news release. "Under the terms of Peabody's contract with Patriot, our obligation to fund certain of Patriot's retiree healthcare liabilities will terminate at the same time."

After Patriot's obligations to provide retiree health care benefits end, a voluntary employee beneficiary association (VEBA) will provide health care benefits to Patriot retirees, Peabody said. Peabody added it has made several offers to contribute what it calls substantial funding to the VEBA.

"Unfortunately, the UMWA has continued to grandstand, and will have to explain to its members why it chooses to posture while denying them significantly greater retiree healthcare benefits." Peabody said. "The UMWA's unreasonable position has left Peabody with no plausible avenue but to protect our legal rights."

A UMWA spokesman said the union would not have a comment on the Peabody statement at this time.

The case is being heard in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.