The nation's biggest miners' union and Patriot Coal Co. which operates in southern Illinois say they have reached a potential settlement over the severity of wage and benefits cuts a bankruptcy judge had allowed the company to impose. The United Mine Workers of America isn't publicly revealing details of the deal, pending Friday's scheduled ratification vote by its members. St. Louis-based Patriot also isn't releasing the terms. But the union says the deal significantly improves upon the cuts Patriot was empowered to make under the May 29 court ruling that allowed it to abandon its collective-bargaining agreements with the union. Patriot's president and CEO Bennett Hatfield says the ``successful conclusion of a difficult negotiation'' helps the company avoid liquidation. Patriot says it will seek the bankruptcy court's authorization to enter into the agreement.
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