Thousands Rally to Save Pensions

Beth Vorhees
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
April 02, 2013

Sixteen people have been arrested during a protest of Patriot Coal Corp.'s bankruptcy reorganization plan in downtown Charleston today.

The arrests occurred on the outside steps leading to Patriot Coal's West Virginia offices at Laidley Tower. UMW President Cecil Roberts was among those arrested after the group refused a police order to move.

Thousands of union members protested Patriot Coal's bankruptcy reorganization plan. Patriot is trying to shed some of it's legacy costs by eliminating benefits to retired union miners.

By the thousands, union members stood in front of Laidley Tower at noon. The building houses the offices of Patrio Coal. The union accuses Arch Coal and Peabody Coal of creating Patriot Coal just so the company could file for bankruptcy and rid itself of pension and benefit commitments to some 23 thousand retired miners and their families.

Rick Bloomingdale traveled from Pennsylvania where he is the president of the AFL-CIO to fire up the crowd.

“These companies today whether it’s violating OSHA, MSHA, the National Labor Relations Act, pension laws, bankruptcy laws.  They’ve violated them all.”

Patriot, based in St. Louis contends it must shed itself of an over one and a half billion dollar liability in order to save 4,000 existing jobs. Today's rally began at the Charleston Civic Center where they heard from Gov. Tomblin, Sen. Manchin and others before taking to the streets to march.

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