CWAers traveled to St. Louis to support their UMWA brothers and sisters.
CWA President Larry Cohen and CWA activists joined more than 6,000 coal miners, their families and supporters from across the country in St. Louis on Monday to protest Patriot Coal's bankruptcy court motion to slash healthcare and pension benefits for tens of thousands of retired miners.
In an act of civil disobedience, 16 people blocked the street in front of the courthouse and were peacefully arrested. CWA President Larry Cohen was led away in cuffs, along with UMWA President Cecil Roberts, National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg, Rebuild the Dream President Van Jones, Rev. David Gerth of St. Louis and 11 active and retired UMWA members.
In an act of civil disobedience, 16 people were arrested.
Below: CWA President Larry Cohen is led away in cuffs.
Before marching six blocks to the federal courthouse, supporters gathered at an hour-long rally in front of Peabody Coal's downtown headquarters.
Cohen brought every person in the crowd to their feet by declaring, "Every one of us, wherever we come from, have UMWA members in our hearts." He added, "Mine Workers are the patriots, not a company that calls itself 'Patriot.'"
At issue are the actions taken by both Arch Coal and Peabody Energy to offload their obligations to retired miners and surviving spouses by creating a new company, Patriot Coal, in 2007. With 43 percent of Peabody's retiree obligations, but just 11 percent of its assets, it's no surprise Patriot filed for bankruptcy protection. UMWA charges that it was "designed to fail."
Now thousands of retirees – suffering illnesses and injuries caused by their work in the mines, including black lung, cancer and crippling injuries – could lose their health care coverage if Patriot is able to shed the obligations as part of its Chapter 11 restructuring.
"Our union will absolutely take this fight on as our fight," Cohen said. "We will find ways to be out here by the tens of thousands. We absolutely understand that if the courts of this country can do this, they can do anything. This is something I learned standing with you in the Pittston struggle years ago. One day longer, as long as it takes."
Sign the petition to support the UMWA's efforts to maintain the benefits promised by Patriot, Arch and Peabody.