Mar 21, 2013
Police arrest United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts and Laura Granich, director of the St. Louis chapter of Jobs with Justice.
Below: Activists rally in St. Louis in support of the UMWA.
Members of CWA Locals 6300 and 6316 joined 2,000 protesters on Tuesday, calling on Patriot Coal to live up to its obligations to pay retiree health care costs.
The company recently filed for bankruptcy and is now attempting to skirt paying these health care costs to retirees, many of whom worked for Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, the two companies whose spinoffs created Patriot Coal. Peabody Energy had shifted all retiree health obligations to the new company, while only transferring one working mine. It's no surprise that Patriot filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2012. The UMWA charges Peabody with creating Patriot specifically so it could shed its union obligations, and that this new company was designed to fail.
This jeopardizes the health of thousands of these retirees, who now suffer illnesses and injuries caused by their work in the mines, including black lung, cancer and crippling injuries.
"The most patriotic people in the world are not the coal companies, they're the coal miners of this country," said UMWA President Cecil Roberts at the rally in St. Louis. "We all saw Peabody steal $1 billion in health care benefits. We want somebody to tell us there's justice for us. We are going to wake up this nation. This is not a coal miners' struggle, this is a workers' struggle."
Roberts mentioned how thankful he is for CWA President Larry Cohen and CWA's support.
Activists are planning two more rallies. The first will be on April 1 in Charleston, W.Va., and another in mid-April in St. Louis.
Sign the petition to support the UMWA's efforts to maintain the benefits promised by Patriot, Arch and Peabody.