UMWA negotiates settlement with Patriot Coal - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

UMWA negotiates settlement with Patriot Coal

Posted: Updated:

The United Mine Workers of America announced Monday that it has reached a settlement with bankrupt Patriot Coal on new terms and conditions of employment. A statement from the union said the settlement "makes significant improvements over what federal Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States ordered on May 29, and what Patriot implemented on July 1."

"After several weeks of nearly around-the-clock negotiations, I believe we have reached something that can be taken to the membership for ratification," UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said in the statement.

"We have been able to restore, or at least improve upon, many of the most drastic changes that the Judge ordered, including in the area of wages, health care benefits, paid time off, pensions, and more. In addition, we have negotiated a mechanism that will allow retiree health care benefits to continue."

The vote will take place on Friday, Aug. 16. Some 1,800 active or laid-off members in West Virginia and Kentucky are eligible to vote. The union will not release details of the settlement until after those members have had a chance to hear its terms, the UMWA said.

Patriot Coal issued a statement on the tentative agreement.

"This represents the successful conclusion of a difficult negotiation in which both the UMWA leadership and Patriot management have invested many long days.  Both parties want to preserve jobs and protect healthcare benefits for retirees by keeping Patriot on track for reorganization – and not liquidation," said Patriot President and Chief Executive Officer Bennett K. Hatfield.  "We appreciate the cooperation of the UMWA leadership and the sacrifices of all of our employees and retirees as we work to restore Patriot to viability."

Patriot's statement said the company will file a motion with the bankruptcy court in St. Louis seeking authorization to enter into the agreement.