Bankruptcy Should Not Be a License to Steal

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UMWA Public pressure is mounting on yet another company — Patriot Coal — attempting to hide behind federal bankruptcy law to strip health care and pensions from more than 20,000 workers and retirees. But more must be done to keep the heat on before another corporation breaks its promises.

That is exactly what up to 10,000 union members and supporters were doing earlier this week when they marched on Patriot Coal headquarters in Charleston, W.Va., to protest the company’s move to cut employee retirement and health care.  Leading the way was United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts who, along with 15 others, were arrested for civil disobedience.

But we cannot let the UMWA stand in this fight alone.  This goes far beyond the hills of West Virginia, and impacts more than just union coal miners.  This was even evidenced yesterday when Patriot asked a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis to cap the life insurance benefits if its non-union retirees, and dispose of all life insurance for active non-union employees.

Bankruptcy was designed to help individuals and companies in times of great difficulty. Bankruptcy should not be a license to steal, or a green light for lawyers to cook up schemes that enrich a select few by robbing a great many.

A growing number of elected officials, thankfully, are taking a public stand on the side of workers and retirees – and against destructive corporate greed.  In recent weeks U.S. senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin have all condemned Patriot’s actions, as did AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who spoke at the rally.

As we’ve written about before, this company was formed when Peabody Energy and Arch Coal merged for the sole purpose of triggering a self-serving bankruptcy.  This shell game produced a new company – offensively named Patriot – that is asking a bankruptcy judge to throw out its contract with the United Mine Workers of America.  Earlier this year the 33 unions of the TTD Executive Committee stood together to condemn Patriot’s shameful, arrogant agenda.

I’ve always been moved by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Patriot Coal is a poster child for corporate greed and arrogance.  We cannot remain silent.  We cannot let them win.

In times this tough, and in the face of injustice this grave, workers and public officials everywhere must take a stand.  Please take action today to support the UMWA in its Fairness at Patriot campaign.


13 thoughts on “Bankruptcy Should Not Be a License to Steal

  1. Support the american worker! It could be your family next. These people have dedicated there lives to your company. Will fight to see that they are taken care of!

  2. Like so many negative actions we’ve seen in the past 100 years, the greed of a few and the complacency of many may endanger middleclass life as we know it. Don’t be a party to those who would pull the rug out from under the workers and their survivors who brought this nation to where it is today. Make your voice heard LOUD AND CLEAR, say no to Patriot Coal’s attempt to rape American Workers!

  3. Why is it congress and their kind want to repeal everything F.D.R Harry S Truman and L.B.J stood for but “No One’ is asking for these young white “blue bloods” to give up their ungodly pensions and health care,let them wait until they’re 62-65 to retire under social security and let them use medicare,I repeat the infamous “tea party” did it to the republicans.Start a “labor Party” within the democratic party and maybe just maybe the ones who screw over us will have to “fight’ for our votes during the primaries..A good example is Durbin from Illinois who does nothing except cater to the vote in Chicago..He never made a appearance for Tenaska,never says a word about Illinois retired coal miners losing everything, the man is utterly useless as a spokesman for Labor,all they talk and argue about is abortion and gay rights, why not put these two issues on the ballot and for once let the citizens decide….and as a “closer” the EPA has more power than any unelected offical should have,just another case of the bought and paid for politicans avoiding ther responsibilites….. “PS” how come the rich brats get to party while the lower classes fight their wars..Bring back the “Universal Draft” and let them be cannon fodder for a change..Whatever! it’s a mess!

  4. I HOPE the judge orders patriot,arch and peabody to sell off ALL assets,and set up a fund for bennifits ! Orders all 3 companies out of WV.never to return ! No more land leases,mining permits,or any other business in WV. ! You cant even have cell phone service Rt.85 >farleys branch to robinson WV. because of the coal companies wont let cell towers be put in,and have forced one phone company to remove 1 cell tower I know of (patriot or eastern ?). How many years should we wait for cell service ? Mr.Hatfield > You seem to have forgot 1 thing > If it were not for the employees ? YOU would NOT have a company !

  5. A few years ago our country went after a group of people for attacking our country by destroying the Twin Towers and killing thousands of Americans. We did not let them get away with it, by going after them with everything we had as we should have. Now Peabody / Patriot are doing the same by killing hundreds maybe thousands by taking away their health care which they worked and deserve to survive. Shame on you Peabody / Patriot and your GREED.

  6. Hello ,with sad findings,today patriot,after rehireing several people,is layingoff appx.24 at there blackoak union mine ,30 at there brody non union mine and others at there non union strip mines,is this only harrassment/intimidation/threats/loss of wages/loss of bennifits to help there bankrupsy scam ? People are VERY TIRED of being hired,only to be shortly laidoff ! Is this a legal action of any company in this US country or a molicious illegal intention ,to violate life,liberty an persute of happiness an civil rights of all those involved in mining or other industry legal or just no matter the EXCUSE or lie ?

  7. Does patriot coal ‘NOW’ plan to hire red hat miners (uncertified no experience) to work in place of certified miners at less per hour up to almost the point of being certified then get rid of them and hire more red hats,keeping them from being certified at a higher rate of pay ? /// ; I would INcourage anyone who feels the bankruptcy decision and judge has discriminated aginst them to file that complait at the local U.S.Attorney’s office (citizen complaint form) and the U.S. Dept. of Justice TODAY ! The constitution states the government shall not live above the people ! Considering the tax payer’s pay government (political, judges & ect….) medical and retirement bennifits the decision is nothing less than a molicious intention to discriminate !

  8. All non union miners ,I would welcome you to attend all umwa ralley’s ! You risk your lives each day same as we do,an suffer the same disabilities related to mining as we do.You have suffered pay an bennifit cuts already along with insurence increases.Im not asking you to join the union,Im asking you to stand up for your rights along side an with us.I think at least some of you have realised what this fight also means to you and your families. You are welcome and any other persons that want to support fair wages and bennifits are welcome !

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