Miners and Supporters to Rally at Arch Coal HQ in Creve Coeur

Miners and Supporters to Rally at

Arch Coal HQ in Creve Coeur

UMWA Campaign Keeps Heat on Companies Trying to Avoid Obligations to Retirees

St. Louis – Active and retired members of the United Mine Workers, along with labor and community supporters, will take their campaign on behalf of retired miners to Arch Coal headquarters, just outside St. Louis, on Tuesday July 30.

Who: Mine Workers and supporters, including:

Cecil Roberts, UMWA International President

Ed Hill, International President, IBEW

Clayola Brown, President, A. Philip Randolph Institute

Kathy McCormick, Exec. VP and WV/KY Health Care Division Director, SEIU District 1199

What: Rally and march to protest Arch Coal’s attempt to avoid obligations to retired workers

When:  Tuesday, July 30, 9:30 am

Where: Arch Coal Headquarters

North New Ballas Road and City Place Drive

Creve Coeur, MO

Arch Coal created Magnum Coal in 2005 and unloaded $560 million in retiree health care liabilities onto the new company.  Patriot Coal, created by Peabody Energy in 2007 in a similar transaction, acquired Magnum and its liabilities in 2008.

Patriot declared bankruptcy in 2012, and has threatened the effective elimination of health care for retired workers. The company won approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to impose terms and conditions on both retired and active workers. UMWA negotiators are currently in talks with Patriot to lessen the impact of proposed cuts on miners and their families.

“I never worked a day in my life for Patriot,” says Shirley Inman, a UMWA Local 2286 member from Madison, W. Va. Inman worked 18 years for Arch Coal, before suffering a disabling injury. “It’s just not right for these companies to play a corporate shell game, set up a new company that goes broke, then say they don’t have any obligation to us. Arch Coal made that promise to me, not Patriot. Arch needs to keep its promise and live up to the obligations it made.”

Arch Coal posted gross profits of $721 million in 2012, while Peabody Energy earned $2.14 billion.

“We want to remind Arch executives that we haven’t forgotten about them,” said UMWA President Roberts. “They started this scheme when they set up Magnum Coal in 2005. These corporate executives can play accounting games all day long, but we know who made the obligations to these miners. A wrong has been done to them, and we’re not going to stop until that wrong is made right.”

Earlier this month, more than five thousand UMWA members and supporters rallied in Fairmont, West Virginia, near the site of Peabody’s Federal #2 mine. Thirty-one protestors were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience in Fairmont; dozens more have been arrested in recent months during protests in St. Louis, Henderson Kentucky, and Charleston, West Virginia.

The ongoing demonstrations, including the July 30 event in Creve Coeur, are part of a comprehensive legal, legislative, public education and citizen mobilization campaign in support of active and retired miners.

A lawsuit on behalf of UMWA members, filed in federal court in Charleston, 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, with bills sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats.

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