By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
Excitement has been building for the United Mine Workers of America’s “Fairness at Patriot” rally, which is happening today in Fairmont.
The rally will kick off at 10 a.m. at Fairmont State University’s football practice field. On Monday, several buses were on their way to the Friendly City, and the UMW anticipates a crowd in the thousands, said Phil Smith, director of communications for the union.
More than 25 buses from across the country, including West Virginia, Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, are expected to show up.
The Fairmont event is in support of the retired miners and their families who are losing their health care and active miners who are seeing cuts in wages and benefits with Patriot Coal Corp.’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which was filed July 9, 2012.
Patriot went public through a spinoff from Peabody Energy in October 2007. Then in July 2008, the corporation acquired Magnum Coal Co., which formerly gained assets and liabilities from Arch Coal. With the spinoff from Peabody and purchase of Magnum, Patriot took on the responsibility of providing benefits to some of Peabody and Arch’s former employees and retirees.
The UMW is protesting Peabody and Arch’s actions, which the union says caused Patriot to unavoidably go into bankruptcy.
“We’ve been all over the country having rallies about this issue,” Smith said.