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UMWA Says Bankrupt Mining Company Shouldn't Give $6.4 Million to Top Executives

Jesse Wright
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
UMWA members stand in recognition during a recent speech by Cecil Roberts

Last Friday, the United Mine Workers of America filed an objection to Patriot Coal's proposed bankruptcy plan, which includes $6.4 million in bonuses paid to management employees.

The UMWA says Patriot's proposed "key employee" bonus plan would benefit only the top executives. The union is concerned that the plan will ultimately lead to union miners having to take pay cuts, reduce their benefits, or even losing their jobs.

"At a time when Patriot is attempting to rid itself of obligations to workers, retirees, widows and families, it is simply outrageous that the five people who already make the most money in the company are getting hundreds of thousands more," UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. "For what? On what planet does it make sense to reward people who preside over bankrupt companies?"

Patriot Coal filed its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy in three years on May 12. Miners represented by the UMWA made significant concessions to keep the company afloat in the company's 2012-13 bankruptcy, and the company was relieved of its retiree health care obligations as well.

"No group of people have sacrificed more for this company than UMWA active and retired members," Roberts said. "We have given up wages and benefits. We have seen the promise of lifetime health care benefits for retirees and widows put at risk. We are the ones who have made the sacrifices to keep this company going."

Steven Currence is president of the UMWA local 2286, based in Boone County. “Now that they’re trying to completely doing away with the Union workers or experienced workers, we’re going to have to fight Patriot coal.”

The fight Currence is referring to includes the UMWA’s push to ensure that union miners are paid a fair wage, even in the midst of Patriot’s bankruptcy.

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