RAMPS stands with all of the union members, retirees, and their families who are fighting to make sure that they do not lose vital benefits like health care as Patriot goes through bankruptcy. We Support the UMWA’s “Fighting for Fairness at Patriot” campaign and believe that Patriot must be held to its promises under the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement (NBCWA).
It’s perfectly clear what Peabody’s intentions were when it spun off all of its eastern unionized mines into Patriot Coal and then saddled the new company with unrealistic legacy costs. Transferred costs included healthcare and pensions for thousands of Patriot retirees, hundreds of millions in black lung and workers compensation liabilities, and liabilities for already closed mines. Patriot also represents Arch’s shed legacy costs because of its purchase of Magnum Coal Company, Arch’s 2005 spin-off.
Although 90% of those receiving these benefits from Patriot never even worked for the company, their healthcare and pensions could still be at risk depending on the requests that Patriot makes in Bankruptcy court. Patriot is now responsible for benefits for three times as many retired workers as the company employs, and though Peabody’s board of directors intentionally created this setup in 2007, Patriot is now trying to argue its way out of its responsibilities in court. The 1974 Pension Plan fund could lose its ability to pay pensions if Patriot, the fund’s second-largest contributor, pulls out. Future pension rights are also at risk.