a tough fight for US mine workers – Published on Socialist Unity, by Andy Newman, May 24, 2013;
The fight by the United Mine Workers of America UMWA to defend pensions for the former workers of Peabody coal is a battle for basic human dignity against a rapacious and immoral employer. The fact that losing their pension also means that they lose health care, is a further poignant reminder of how much we must fight to retain the British NHS, a state owned system of free universal health care.
According to the UMWA:
Patriot Coal, created by Peabody Energy 2007 with 43 percent of Peabody’s liabilities but just 11 percent of its assets, filed for bankruptcy in July, 2012. Patriot has filed motions demanding the effective elimination of the current system of health care for retired miners and drastic pay and benefit cuts for active workers. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kathy Surratt-States is scheduled to rule on the company’s motions on or before May 29.
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.” Current Patriot CEO Ben Hatfield has acknowledged that “something doesn’t smell right” about the manner in which his company was founded.
In 2008, Patriot acquired Magnum Coal, a company created by Arch Coal featuring a similar shift of assets and liabilities.
Peabody Energy and Arch Coal executives claim that because Patriot and Magnum were spun off years ago, they have nothing to with the current litigation. But nearly all of the retired miners who may lose their health care worked most or all of their careers for Peabody or Arch, not Patriot.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that Patriot has been set up deliberately to take over the pension and health liabilities from Peabody, and then designed to go bankrupt, stealing benefits from 23000 pensioners.
Three days ago, more than 4,500 members and supporters of the United Mine Workers marched and rallied in downtown St. Louis. Protestors were joined by former AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Barbara Easterling, Missouri State Representative Karla May and Rev. John Stratton of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri … //
… (full text).
Official United Mine Workers of America UMWA’s website;
Video: President Cecil Roberts explains the Patriot bankrupty, 8.13 min, uploaded by UMWAunion, Sept. 17, 2012;
Video: Last Saturday’s NHS demonstation, March to defend the NHS, 3.19 min, by Andy Newman, 22 May, 2013.