The United Mine Workers of America say negotiators from St. Louis-based Patriot Coal walked out of talks Tuesday setting the stage for a possible strike.
The bankrupt company and the union were trying to come to an agreement even after a federal judge ruled in favor of a plan Patriot put forward to reduce costs.
UMWA spokesman Phil Smith says Patriot will now put that plan in effect July 1, including wage cuts for active miners and changes to health benefits for 23,000 retired miners and their families.
Smith says union president Cecil Roberts is recommending members do not accept those terms.
“If they vote ‘no’ that will that will be a very clear indication of what they want to do and will inform the union’s leadership and President Roberts, who has the sole authority to call a strike in the United Mine Workers,” Smith said.
The vote is expected to take place in the last week of June.
A Patriot spokeswoman said the company would release a statement later Tuesday.
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