UMWA

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

The nearly monthly rallies by retired miners in front of Peabody Energy’s headquarters in downtown St. Louis are now a thing of the past.

The United Mine Workers of America, Peabody Energy, and Patriot Coal announced a settlement late Tuesday night.

The UMWA had been pushing Peabody through its rallies and a lawsuit filed in Charleston to pay for retirees’ health benefits after its spin-off, Patriot Coal, filed for bankruptcy last year.

Patriot had largely shed its $1.6 billion liability in healthcare benefits for about 23,000 retired miners and their dependents.

(UPI)

Peabody Energy will have to pay health benefits for retirees of a former subsidiary after an appeals court reversed a federal bankruptcy judge’s decision.

The ruling Wednesday from the three-judge US Court of Appeals bankruptcy panel affects 3,100 retirees attached to Heritage Coal.

Peabody had earlier agreed to continue paying retiree health benefits when Heritage was spun off along with Patriot in 2007.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

A federal bankruptcy judge approved a new labor agreement Tuesday between St. Louis-based Patriot Coal and the United Mine Workers of America.

Judge Kathy Surratt-States granted Patriot’s request for a new collective bargaining agreement.

About 1,800 UMWA members voted in favor of the agreement Friday, which would restore most of the wage cuts that Patriot had previously sought.

It also would put a VEBA, or Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, in place of the current health benefits that about 10,000 retired miners currently have.

UMWA Back In St. Louis

Aug 13, 2013
Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

Members of The United Mine Workers of America were in St. Louis again Tuesday, rallying over miners’ retiree benefits.

The protest took place just one day after the union reached a tentative agreement with Patriot Coal.

But officials were turning their attention back to Peabody, which created the now bankrupt Patriot in 2007.

UMWA officials, including secretary treasurer Dan Kane, repeated at the rally in front of Peabody’s headquarters that the corporation is still responsible to its former employees.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

More than a thousand United Mine Workers of America members were back in St. Louis on Monday, the latest in a series of protests against Peabody Energy and its handling of their  retirement and health care benefits.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Updated 6:15 p.m.

UMWA tweeted this afternoon that they and Patriot have "agreed to return to the bargaining table next week."

Original Story:

St. Louis-based Patriot Coal officials deny that the company "walked out" of talks with the United Mine Workers of America earlier this week.

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)

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.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

A federal bankruptcy judge granted a motion Wednesday allowing St. Louis-based Patriot Coal to make major changes to retirees’ health benefits.

Patriot estimated it had more than $1.6 billion in health liabilities for some 23,000 retired miners and their families.

The company said it could not emerge from bankruptcy with those obligations and is instead offering the United Mine Workers of America a 35 percent stake in a new company, as well as a healthcare trust fund for retirees.