Officials at the companies, both subsidiaries of Murray Energy Corp., maintain the liabilities, subsidizing retiree medical costs, have been designated for workers their companies never employed. If approved, they added, Patriot would leave 95,000 retired miners and their spouses without these benefits.
Patriot Coal has signed multi-employer collective bargaining agreements with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), providing retiree medical coverage and pension benefits. The UMWA’s 1974 Pension Plan has since been certified as underfunded, according to Ohio Valley officials; having employed about 11,000 retired miners, Patriot is the plan’s No. 2 contributor.
Ohio Valley Coal officials say they filed the motion as Patriot sought to fund a maximum of $300 million in liabilities, leaving a remaining $2 billion with other companies signed onto a UMWA wage agreement.
If successful, Patriot officials would cause the decimation of the remaining companies at a cost of thousands of jobs to the industry, Ohio Valley officials said. Beyond its court petitions, Ohio Valley has initiated a broad-based awareness campaign targeting Washington lawmakers and the public about Patriot Coal and its unfunded liabilities.