Hundreds of miners from across the country protested outside of St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, accusing Peabody of trying to skip out on pension and healthcare benefits owed to some ten thousand retirees. In 2007 Peabody created a new company called Patriot Coal, which took on much of the outstanding pension liabilities for both Peabody, as well as Creve Coeur-based Arch Coal. Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America, says the whole deal was designed to end up in bankruptcy court:
"So now Patriot is paying the obligations of two of the largest coal companies in the world, and people who never worked for Patriot are asking me, how can Patriot going into bankruptcy have anything to do with my healthcare?"
Roberts says the retired miners risk losing their benefits if Patriot asks a bankruptcy judge to release it outstanding debts. Peabody spokesman Vic Svec said the matter is between the union, Patriot Coal, and a bankruptcy judge, not the court of public opinion.
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