The Times West Virginian

Opinion

June 7, 2013

Judge’s ruling about Patriot Coal is ‘tragic’ and a ‘travesty’

We wonder how many readers were angered when they read the top story in the Times West Virginian on May 30.

We know the story didn’t apply to that many of our readers, but that is not the issue here. It applied to some of them, and that is who we’re writing about today.

We’re writing about the miners working for Patriot Coal, who in good faith accepted a contract that promised health care and pension benefits to them upon retirement.

But now Patriot Coal, saying it is on the verge of bankruptcy, has received a judge’s go-ahead to significantly cut the health care and personal benefits to thousands of workers and retirees. And it claimed victory over a miner’s union that swiftly condemned the ruling it pledged to appeal.

What did U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States’ ruling do? The 102-page document dashed the nation’s biggest coal miners’ union’s hopes of scuttling the company’s quest to impose wage and benefit cuts by walking away from its collective-bargaining agreements. The judge said Patriot Coal’s concessions are necessary. And why should they worry about what happened to Patriot Coal? They work for Peabody.

The union had threatened a strike if the judge’s decision didn’t go organized labor’s way. But it had remained clear of talking of a walkout, saying it would continue arguing during protests that Patriot was set up to fail. The union said negotiations would continue while it is appealing the judge’s ruling.

We liked what United Mine Workers of America president Cecil Roberts said about the situation, noting that “we have long acknowledged that Patriot Coal is in trouble.”

“We remain willing to take painful steps to help Patriot get through the tough period it faces over the next couple of years,” Roberts said. “But if we’re going to share in that pain, then we have every right to share that company’s gain when it becomes profitable again.”

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller have shown their disgust for the judge’s ruling.

“This ruling is a travesty,” Manchin said. “It is wrong that Peabody can set up a company such as Patriot, fill that company with its liabilities and then spin that company off for the sole purpose of avoiding its contractual and moral obligation to its workers.”

Rockefeller said that “once again we are seeing how the bankruptcy system is stacked against the American worker. It’s tragic to watch how some industries treat their workers after they’ve given much of their lives to these companies.”

The Times West Virginian runs an online poll each week about stories of interest. In regard to the future of the Patriot Coal situation, one of our suggested answers is “I think the union and company can sit down and hammer out a deal that will have the least impact on retirees and current employees.”

Based on everything that has happened, this would certainly seem to be the best solution to a very bad situation. We can’t take our minds off the aged miners who will lose their pensions and those still working who may not receive theirs.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay

    Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.

    April 20, 2014

  • The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings

    During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.

    April 20, 2014

  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads