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Miners Arrested in Fight to End Peabody’s Stealing of Health Benefits

Peabody Coal Mine

Peabody Coal Mine

Coal execs deserve “a cell next to Bernie Madoff” 

St. Louis,MO. February 13, 2013.  Shirley Inman was arrested for peaceful, civil disobedience as she protested at the Peabody Energy headquarters against the corporate threat to rob miners and their families of the health benefits they have earned.  Inman, a member of United Mine Workers of America Local 2286 in Madison,West Virginia, spent 18 years driving a coal truck.  Head held high, Inman faced arrest with a determination much greater than her petite stature.  She is serious about this fight.

If I can’t get my medication for my heart disease, I won’t be around much longer,” said Inman. “I’m a breast cancer survivor and I have coronary artery disease. Health care isn’t an option for me; it’s what I need to survive. I’ll do whatever it takes to make these corporate executives keep the promises they made – and if that means going to jail, so be it.”

Inman was arrested with nine of her union brothers, including UMWA Secretary Treasurer Dan Kane.  This was the second set of arrests at Peabody Energy, and it looks like there will be more to come.  On January 29 UMWA President Cecil Roberts was arrested with the first group, but he was not present for this rally because of negotiations.

In 2007, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal spun off a large chunk of their health care and retirement obligations to a new entity called Patriot Coal.  In a financial and bankruptcy transaction that UMWA Vice President from Alabama, Daryl Dewberry, described as “nickel slick”, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal are trying to wash their hands of responsibility for the health benefits for which they had signed contracts.

There was an air of militancy as more than 1,000 miners and supporters marched to the park and rallied between the St. Louis arch and the Peabody headquarters prior to the arrests.  There was emotion also.  Health care hits close to the heart.  The union has challenged the theft of benefits in court, and the case has been moved to St. Louis.  Concerned that bankruptcy law may not be adequate to protect these benefits, the miners say they will win this battle by appealing to a higher moral law.

Dan Kane, UMWA Secretary Treasurer explained.  “They intentionally put Patriot in the position for bankruptcy.  They want this in the bankruptcy court—they don’t want it in the court of public opinion.  This is about every man and woman who works for a living.  Health care and pension are not gifts.  You paid for it.  But these companies are using bankruptcy more and more.  Lawyers will get paid.  Million dollar bonuses will go to executives.  The heads of Patriot won’t suffer.  Those who did the work walk out with nothing.  That has to stop.  We don’t want their sympathy.  What we want is justice.”

“We want what we’ve earned,” said Kane.  “They want to go to their palatial homes—but they deserve a cell next to Bernie Madoff.  I’m tired of an economy that walks all over the workers.  I look for a day when we win the fight so every person who wants to can be in a union without interference.  And next, I look for a day when each and every one drops their tools and sits down for a day and tells the executives here’s what it’s like without us.”  The protesters roared approval.

Dewberry said the UMWA was founded in 1890 “when it was not popular to have all creeds and colors together, but we did it and we’ve been doing it for over 100 years.”  He said that miners are “used to adversity and we are all our brothers’ keepers. Peabodyleft scars in Alabama.  Arch left scars in Alabama.  They left black lung.  Miners took less benefits to assure health care.” [cont’d.]

CommunityMy FDL

Miners arrested in fight to end Peabody’s stealing of health benefits

Coal execs deserve “a cell next to Bernie Madoff” 

Peabody Coal Mine

Peabody Coal Mine

St. Louis,MO. February 13, 2013.  Shirley Inman was arrested for peaceful, civil disobedience as she protested at the Peabody Energy headquarters against the corporate threat to rob miners and their families of the health benefits they have earned.  Inman, a member of United Mine Workers of America Local 2286 in Madison,West Virginia, spent 18 years driving a coal truck.  Head held high, Inman faced arrest with a determination much greater than her petite stature.  She is serious about this fight.

If I can’t get my medication for my heart disease, I won’t be around much longer,” said Inman. “I’m a breast cancer survivor and I have coronary artery disease. Health care isn’t an option for me; it’s what I need to survive. I’ll do whatever it takes to make these corporate executives keep the promises they made – and if that means going to jail, so be it.”

Inman was arrested with nine of her union brothers, including UMWA Secretary Treasurer Dan Kane.  This was the second set of arrests at Peabody Energy, and it looks like there will be more to come.  On January 29 UMWA President Cecil Roberts was arrested with the first group, but he was not present for this rally because of negotiations.

In 2007, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal spun off a large chunk of their health care and retirement obligations to a new entity called Patriot Coal.  In a financial and bankruptcy transaction that UMWA Vice President from Alabama, Daryl Dewberry, described as “nickel slick”, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal are trying to wash their hands of responsibility for the health benefits for which they had signed contracts.

There was an air of militancy as more than 1,000 miners and supporters marched to the park and rallied between the St. Louis arch and the Peabody headquarters prior to the arrests.  There was emotion also.  Health care hits close to the heart.  The union has challenged the theft of benefits in court, and the case has been moved to St. Louis.  Concerned that bankruptcy law may not be adequate to protect these benefits, the miners say they will win this battle by appealing to a higher moral law.

Dan Kane, UMWA Secretary Treasurer explained.  “They intentionally put Patriot in the position for bankruptcy.  They want this in the bankruptcy court—they don’t want it in the court of public opinion.  This is about every man and woman who works for a living.  Health care and pension are not gifts.  You paid for it.  But these companies are using bankruptcy more and more.  Lawyers will get paid.  Million dollar bonuses will go to executives.  The heads of Patriot won’t suffer.  Those who did the work walk out with nothing.  That has to stop.  We don’t want their sympathy.  What we want is justice.”

“We want what we’ve earned,” said Kane.  “They want to go to their palatial homes—but they deserve a cell next to Bernie Madoff.  I’m tired of an economy that walks all over the workers.  I look for a day when we win the fight so every person who wants to can be in a union without interference.  And next, I look for a day when each and every one drops their tools and sits down for a day and tells the executives here’s what it’s like without us.”  The protesters roared approval.

Dewberry said the UMWA was founded in 1890 “when it was not popular to have all creeds and colors together, but we did it and we’ve been doing it for over 100 years.”  He said that miners are “used to adversity and we are all our brothers’ keepers. Peabodyleft scars in Alabama.  Arch left scars in Alabama.  They left black lung.  Miners took less benefits to assure health care.”
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