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WV Legislature supports UMWA’s Fairness at Patriot campaign

March 25, 2013
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[CHARLESTON, WV] – The West Virginia House of Delegates today overwhelmingly approved a resolution supporting the United Mine Workers of America’s (UMWA) effort to fight efforts by Patriot Coal, Peabody Energy and Arch Minerals to eliminate retiree pensions and health care.

“We cannot allow corporate greed to run roughshod over the people who have exchanged their working lives, and frequently their health, for a promise of a secure retirement,” said UMWA International District 31 Vice President Mike Caputo, who as House Majority Whip was a primary sponsor of the motion. “This resolution tells these rogue coal companies that their flagrant abuse of the bankruptcy process to shed their contractual obligations to their workers is strongly opposed by the people of the Mountain State.”

Patriot Coal was created by Peabody in 2007 with the specific purpose of allowing Peabody Energy to shed its long-term health care obligations to its retirees and their families. As part of its ongoing campaign to achieve fairness for these beneficiaries, the UMWA will welcome thousands of members, other trade unionists and supporters to Charleston April 1 for a rally and march, beginning 10:00 a.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.

“I am very pleased by the action taken in the Legislature,” said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. “It shows that the support for our struggle for justice is growing and broadening, and that these coal companies’ concept of ‘business as usual’ will not be tolerated in West Virginia.”

Roberts noted that Gov. Tomblin, Sens. Rockefeller and Manchin and Rep. Rahall have all sent letters in opposition to the elimination of health care benefits for these retirees. “Our members want to know which side politicians are on, and now we’re finding out. I commend those from both sides of the aisle who support our fight for fairness.”

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