The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 17, 2013

Our Readers Speak — Monday, June 17, 2013


Coal miners shouldn’t have to suffer more

I am writing this on behalf of my dad along with his fellow co-workers who have given much of their lives to the coal industry.

My father has been a longtime member and retiree of the UMWA currently under the control of Patriot Coal, and I am writing to express my concern about the decision to allow Patriot to not honor the commitments they made to the UMWA concerning retirement benefits and insurance benefits.

I understand the decision was made to alleviate expenses incurred by Patriot Coal. However, I do not believe that the benefits should be removed from retired miners and their dependents.

Patriot Coal was well aware of its financial responsibilities. The retirees affected have contributed painful days of unending labor, coal-filled lungs, stress, breaks in bones, back problems from crawling in the dirt, hearing problems from the loud equipment from being underground, and so very much more that I can’t even comprehend.

The UMWA members have done their jobs. Arch and Peabody received the benefits from the back-breaking and dangerous work that these miners performed. Patriot Coal knew that American workers had given their health and lives to make these companies desirable. To now turn their backs on these workers is an absolute disgrace.

These men deserve to be honored for all their hard work, for giving their lives, and doing everything in their power to provide for their families. I know this issue has become an everyday stress that my dad now endures. These men shouldn’t have to worry about this issue, because they have paid into this company for years and it is not their fault that the company is playing the system and used their funding wrong.

Maybe the shoe should be on the other foot for once and the judge who gave the decision, along with men/women filing for the bankruptcy, should be forced to go without their paycheck and without their insurance and they should have some of the stress that these men/women are going through every day just listening and waiting on the news and change their routine day of life and way to maintain life.

Shame on the judge who passed this and is allowing the company to get by with it. Many of these workers will be forced to choose between eating and buying medicine. These proud workers should not be subjected to such decisions.

Mary Brown

Coal City