ST. LOUIS – Hundreds of people were picketing in downtown St. Louis Tuesday as the United Mine Workers of America tries to salvage health care benefits for retirees and widows from Patriot Coal’s bankruptcy.
Miners from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio are also planning to join the protest Tuesday outside the federal building and the headquarters of one company the union blames for the bankruptcy, Peabody Energy. Arch Coal is the other company that merged with Peabody to form Patriot Coal.
During the march to Peabody's headquarters, some protestors sat down in the middle of the street side by side, blocking any potential traffic from getting through.
Police officers were stationed outside the headquarters and watched the whole thing unfold.
It was not clear if any arrests were imminent.
UMWA members said they were protesting a scheme orchestrated by Peabody and Arch Coal to set up Patriot Coal to fail, leading to the bankruptcy.
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.
A judge moved Patriot’s case to St. Louis in November. An $802 million financing package is letting it continue operating while it restructures.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.