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Judge Sides with Patriot Coal, Miners Plan Protests

The United Mine Workers of America plan to appeal a court ruling that will significantly cut health care and pension benefits to thousands of workers and retirees, including many in Kentucky.

On Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States approved Peabody Energy Corp. spin-off Patriot Coal’s request to impose wage and benefit cuts by throwing out its collective bargaining agreements with the UMW. Union spokesman Phil Smith says the battle is far from over, however.

“The judge may have issued a ruling in this case, but the jury is still out with respect to Peabody and Arch Coal and their responsibility for this mess," Smith said.

Smith said he expects at least 33 busloads of UMW members and supporters to converge on Henderson, Kentucky Tuesday for a demonstration at the Henderson County Courthouse, beginning at 10 a.m.

Patriot operates two mines in Union and Henderson counties.

Patriot sought bankruptcy protection last summerto address labor obligations it said have grown unsustainable. Patriot has said it would have to spend $1.6 billion to cover the health care costs, putting it at risk of liquidation.

John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
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