Judge frees coal company to eliminate benefits

May 31, 2013

In a May 29 decision long dreaded by union coal miners, a bankruptcy court in St. Louis agreed that Patriot Coal has the right to void its collective bargaining agreements and cancel its pension and retirement obligations to 20,000 workers and family members.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) argued in court that Patriot should not be let out of its debts, charging that its parent company, Peabody Energy, had designed Patriot to fail as a ploy to get out of $1 billion in retiree obligations. According to a financial analysis by Temple University Professor of Finance Bruce Rader, Patriot Coal was spun off from Peabody Energy with 42 percent of Peabody’s liabilities, but only 11 percent of its assets.

Read the complete story at In These Times.