Hundreds of retired and current union miners from across the country descended on St. Louis on Tuesday to protest Peabody Energy and the potential loss of their pension plans.
Most of the miners worked for either Peabody Energy or Arch Coal, but their benefits are threatened by the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal last year. Patriot was spun off from Peabody in 2007, along with the healthcare obligations of many Peabody and Arch Coal employees.
Members of the United Mine Workers of America were joined by other labor organizations as well as faith based groups to plant 1000 white crosses into the hill of Kiener Plaza. The crosses signified the deaths of hundreds of miners since Peabody and its subsidiaries started operating mines in 1903. The crosses also signified the current and retired union miners who will be affected by the bankruptcy.
In a fiery speech, Steve Earl, with United Mine Workers, stood looking up at Peabody’s downtown St. Louis Headquarters, yelling, “I want to say to Peabody, and Patriot and Arch this morning, we are not going away, we’re here to stay!”
Peabody officials have said that the miners should bring their concerns to the bankruptcy court.