Text version of the Militant, a socialist newspaper  
the Militant, a socialist newspaper
about this site directory of local distributors how to subscribe submit a photo or image order bundles of the Militant to sell
news articles editorials columns contact us search view back issues
The Militant this week
El Militante
Le Militant
St. Louis: Miners protest Patriot Coal union busting
Next action set for June 4 in Henderson, Ky.
White House targets political opponents and reporters
Subscription campaign on target in second week
Fights by Cambodia garment workers grow amid bosses’ deadly profit drive
Parents of Bronx youth won’t let killing by cop become ‘cold case’
Victory in disclosure fight strengthens workers’ ability to organize independent working-class political action
‘Injury to one is injury to all’ guides Socialist Workers Party in battles against government attacks
Record of Militant Fightning Fund
Click here for the record

A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 77/No. 21      June 3, 2013


Click here for Militant Labor Forums

(lead article)
St. Louis: Miners protest
Patriot Coal union busting
Next action set for June 4 in Henderson, Ky.
Militant/Laura Anderson
UWMA miners and supporters march in St. Louis May 21 against coal bosses’ moves to use Patriot Coal bankruptcy to weaken union and walk away from health and pension obligations for retired miners and their families. Bankruptcy judge is expected to make ruling by May 29.

ST. LOUIS — More than 2,500 protested here May 21 against Patriot Coal Corp.’s attempt to use its bankruptcy filing to go after the miners’ union, tearing up contracts for some 2,000 working miners and eliminating pensions and health benefits for retired miners and their spouses.

The rally and march was the ninth protest action since September organized by the United Mine Workers of America against Patriot’s union-busting moves. Participants included working and retired coal miners and their families from Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and other states, along with members of the Steelworkers, Communications Workers, and Laborers union, and other supporters.

In 2007, Peabody Energy spun off many of its mining operations in West Virginia and Kentucky into Patriot. This included all its union mines east of the Mississippi. A year later Patriot bought Magnum Coal, a company created in 2005 by Arch Coal as a spinoff that included all its union mines.

“This is wrong,” said Bobby Napier, member of UMWA Local 2470. He now lives in Oakdale, Ill., and worked in the mines for 31 years. “Every check stub I have is from Peabody. They put the mines into Pa-triot to take the benefits from us.”

Donna Jo Watkins made the trip from Montana Mines, W.Va. Her husband worked at the Federal No. 2 mine. “In 2007 he hurt his back and had to retire,” she said. Now the mine is owned by Patriot, so Watkins’ husband is one of the 20,000 retirees who will lose pensions and health care if the company gets its way.

“I’ve been in this union for 15 years. If you don’t stick up for yourself now, it’s hard to fight in the future,” said Jerry Brown, 38, member of UMWA Local 1638 at the McElroy Mine in Moundsville, W.Va. Brown came on one of three buses from Fairmont, W.Va.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kathy Surratt-States gave Patriot permission May 16 to disburse to supervisors, lower executives, and other “key employees” $6.9 million in bonuses to “prevent attrition,” despite objections from the UMWA. The judge will issue her ruling on Patriot’s overall bankruptcy petition by May 29. But the union is determined to continue the fight regardless of her decision.

“With all due respect to the courts, the Supreme Court, to the Congress, to the president of the United States, no one can tell us when this is over,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts told the crowd, emphasizing the point that miners “will decide when this is over!”

The union has called the next mobilization for June 4 at 10 a.m. on the steps of the Henderson, Ky., County Courthouse, 20 N. Main St.
Related articles:
St. Louis: Miners protest Patriot Coal union busting
Next action set for June 4 in Henderson, Ky.
Fights by Cambodia garment workers grow amid bosses’ deadly profit drive
Fight brewing over safety, conditions in Utah mines
On the Picket Line

Printer logo 
Printer-friendly version of this article

Home | Text-version home