Coal production company seeks to break contract with union

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A coal production company is asking a judge to allow the business to break its contract with a union in order to reorganize its finances.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail (http://bit.ly/1RyEASI ) reports that Alpha Natural Resources filed a petition on Monday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, asking to be able to modify the company’s obligations for retiree health care benefits.

The company argues that it needs to cut costs in order to survive an ongoing decline in the coal industry. Company lawyers say that the company spent about $53 million on health care benefits for union employees last year. Attorneys also argue that the company spent about 34 percent more on each union employee than on each non-union employee.

The company has asked for a hearing to be held on April 12 to address the issue.

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