Arrests Follow Protests of Peabody Energy as Patriot Coal Bankruptcy Continues

Union President One of Nine Arrested Outside Headquarters

Yahoo Contributor Network

Members of the United Mine Workers of America were arrested Tuesday outside the headquarters of Peabody Energy in St. Louis. Police warned 10 members of the union, including president Cecil Roberts, to move out of Seventh Street or be arrested. The men were taken away after refusing to move out of the street.

Why were the union members protesting?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reveals the workers and retirees from the mining industry descended upon St. Louis to join hundreds of protesters who claim Patriot Coal, a spinoff company of Peabody, mismanaged money leading to a $1 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2012. The protest was an effort to try to save health care and pensions that may be at risk during Chapter 11 bankruptcy being heard in St. Louis.

Will the protesters be successful?

Around 800 people rallied around the federal courthouse where the bankruptcy is being heard. They then marched four blocks to the headquarters of Peabody Energy to let their feelings be known. Many of the marchers were from out of state, according to the Associated Press. At stake are benefits for 20,000 workers. Peabody told the Post-Dispatch the dispute is with Patriot Coal and matters should be settled in court and not on the streets.

How much is Patriot Coal liable for in terms of money to pay obligations?

The Wall Street Journal reports Patriot Coal has an obligation to pay $2.1 billion to beneficiaries including retirees, miners and their families. In court Monday, the company proposed setting up a fund with a maximum annual payment of $40 million for health care costs starting this year. Retirees are expected to have nearly $74 million in health care costs this year alone, nearly double the amount suggested by the company.

Why did Patriot Coal lose so much money?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Peabody lost $1.01 billion over the last three months of 2012. The main reason was that prices of coal for steel manufacturing fell by half from their high in 2011. Despite the huge loss announced Monday, the news was better than expected from analysts and as such the company's stock price rose 7 percent from Monday's market close. By comparison, Patriot earned $222.4 million the fourth quarter of 2011. Overall, revenue fell from $2.23 billion to $2.02 billion in the last quarter, beating an expected revenue haul of $1.93 billion.

What happens to the miners who may lose benefits?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the United Mine Workers of America bought advertising space to take grievances straight to the public. Miners face a slew of health problems such as the effects of breathing in coal dust and the hard labor of working underground. The union believes the company hasn't fulfilled its obligations. Other union workers who didn't work for Peabody joined some 500 out-of-town protesters in the fight against a large energy company with an uncertain future.

William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.

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