Thousands of active and retired miners, along with family members and supporters, will attend a mass rally in Fairmont, West Virginia.

Thousands of Miners and Supporters to Rally in Fairmont, West Virginia

More than 25 Busloads Expected as Fight Continues for Retiree Health Benefits and Pay, Working Conditions for Active Miners

Fairmont, West Virginia – Thousands of active and retired miners, along with family members and supporters, will attend a mass rally in Fairmont, West Virginia.

The event, sponsored by the United Miner Workers of America, is the latest in a series of protests against actions by Peabody Energy and Arch Coal that led to the inevitable bankruptcy of Patriot Coal.

Who: Mine Workers and supporters, including:

UMWA President Cecil Roberts

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant

West Virginia State Treasurer John Purdue

West Virginia State Auditor Glen Gainer

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard

Other state and local political and labor leaders

What: Rally to protest cut-off of retiree health benefits and wage and benefit                           cuts for active miners

When:  Tuesday, July 9, 10:00 a.m.

Where: Football practice field, Fairmont State University, Fairmont, W. Va.

Thousands of active and retired miners and supporters are expected to participate in the event, with more than 30 buses already reserved from Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and other locations.

“We’re going to stand up for the health benefits that were promised to these retirees,” said L.U. 9909 President Mike Payton, who will be attending the rally from the Loveridge mine near Fairmont.  “Sometimes people forget we had to fight every step of the way to win decent conditions and good pay for miners. In case there are any mine operators out there who think we’re not willing to keep fighting, here’s a suggestion: Think again.”

More than 90 percent of the retirees whose health care is at risk never worked a single day for Patriot Coal, spending their careers at either Peabody Energy or Arch Coal.  Patriot, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year, was created in 2007 by Peabody, subsequently acquired Magnum Coal, a company created by Arch and other.  Because Patriot was created with insufficient assets to meet its liabilities to retired miners, analysts such as Bruce Rader, Professor of Finance at Temple University, have described the company as “designed to fail.”

“Peabody and Arch say they have no responsibility for this, even though they were the ones who promised these retirees health care,” said UMWA President Cecil Roberts.  “We can see right through that kind of corporate doublespeak.  Our members labored for decades to make these companies rich. We’re not going to let a bunch of rich CEOs get away this.

“This fight is far from over,” said Roberts. “You’ll see us in the streets, in court, in the halls of Congress, in other countries – anywhere we need to go to win justice for miners and their families.

Earlier this week, a delegation of UMWA members travelled to Australia to meet with workers at Peabody operations there, and participated in a rally in Brisbane highlighting their fight for fairness.  A lawsuit on behalf of UMWA members, filed in West Virginia, charges that Peabody and Arch violated the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by scheming to eliminate contractually-guaranteed lifetime health care benefits for retirees.  UMWA members are also working with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to pursue legislative remedies.

Additional information about the UMWA campaign to stand up for active and retired miners is at FairnessAtPatriot.org.

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