EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSUMWA RALLY
from Eyewitness News Online
Union Members Fight New York Bankruptcy Filing, Want Case Heard In W.Va.
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Reported: Sep. 11, 2012 6:21 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 11, 2012 6:26 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts leads thousands of union members on a march from Haddad Riverfront Park to the Byrd Federal Courthouse.
The union is fighting Patriot Coal's bankruptcy declaration in New York. It wants the matter heard in West Virginia's southern district.
The UMWA says Patriot was created to fail by Peabody Coal and Arch Coal, and when the company filed for bankruptcy in July, that put the health care and pension benefits for about 22-thousand active and retired miners and their spouses on the line.
Cecil Roberts/President, UMWA: "Now, how in the world could you possibly lose your health care because a company you didn't work for goes out of business?"
Manuel Ojeda/Logan County: "I worked 38 and a half years in the coal industry. I started out with Amherst Coal Company in 1969 and they were bought out by Arch Coal. And I never worked a day for Patriot."
Roberts contends Patriot filed in New York in hopes of a friendlier judicial environment than what it might find in West Virginia. He says Patriot's bankruptcy is part of a plan by Peabody and Arch Coal companies to shed retirement and health care liabilities totaling 1-point-3 billion dollars.
Cecil Roberts/President, UMWA: "This is nothing but a scam and I hope in this country that companies can't get away with something like this."
Roberts and other speakers at a riverfront rally say the union is ready to fight to keep its members benefits intact.
Mike Caputo/UMWA: "I will go to Federal 2. I will go to any mine in southern West Virginia and we will shut you down."
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