Westmoreland miners, retirees cry foul about bankrupt company asking for executive bonuses


DECEMBER 18, 2018

[HOUSTON, TX.] Six active and retired workers from Westmoreland Coal Company’s Kemmerer mine traveled here to witness today’s hearing in the US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Texas as the company’s lawyers argued for bonuses to be paid to high-paid executives of the bankrupt company.

            “It’s an outrage that Westmoreland is seeking to provide bonuses to a few salaried executives while demanding that hourly workers take cuts in wages, health care and retiree benefits,” said United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts. “They want to reward the very people who drove Westmoreland into bankruptcy while kicking the workers – the ones whose sweat and blood have provided decades of wealth to the company – to the curb.

            “As unfair as that is, the truth is they will probably get their bonuses, because American bankruptcy laws are stacked against workers and in favor of executives and the company’s lenders,” Roberts said. “The executives of this company have already received enormous bonuses in the last year, at the same time they were steering Westmoreland into bankruptcy.

“And now they are to be rewarded for that?” Roberts asked. “As far as I am concerned U.S. Bankruptcy Courts have become little more than venues for official corporate looting at the expense of working and retired Americans.”

            The miners, from Westmoreland’s mines in Kemmerer, Wyo., and Beulah, N.D., volunteered to make the trip to demonstrate to the court that although the proceedings are far from the company’s mines, the hourly employees are watching what is happening.

“This is about our lives,” said Martin Argyle from Kemmerer. “I’ve worked at that mine for 45 years. I earned my health care, and now when I need it the most Westmoreland wants to take it away from me. I don’t know how I’ll survive without it.”