10 mine workers arrested at downtown St. Louis protest

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 1:49 PM

ST. LOUIS—Ten union mine workers have been arrested in St. Louis following a protest outside Peabody Energy headquarters.

Workers and retirees were seeking to draw attention Tuesday to what they consider poor treatment from Patriot Coal Corp., a company spun off from Peabody five years ago. A hearing on Patriot’s bankruptcy was Tuesday in St. Louis.

About 800 mine workers and supporters from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio rallied outside the federal courthouse, then marched a few blocks to Peabody Energy headquarters. The 10 who were arrested were cited for sitting in the street.

The bankruptcy affects more than 10,000 retirees and 10,000 dependents, mostly in those states. Patriot calls its pension and health care programs unsustainable legacies.

“My husband’s pension and my pension will not be any more and our healthcare will be gone, what he’s worked his whole life for,” said Tina Cox, who was among those protesting.

But while the union workers call Peabody “morally bankrupt,” the company says allegations that it set up Patriot as a sham company to fail so Peabody could avoid paying retiree healthcare, pensions and benefits just isn’t true.

A spokesperson says Patriot was launched as a successful company, but bad business decisions, the global financial crisis and costs beyond the company’s control led to its downfall.

“We’ve lived up to all our obligations,” said Vic Svec. “We continue to do so, what we’re saying is this is a matter for bankruptcy courts. And it’ll be decided in a court of law and not the court of public opinion."

A judge moved Patriot’s case to St. Louis in November. An $802 million financing package is letting it continue operating while it restructures.

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