St. Louis Activists Bring UMWA’s ‘Fairness at Patriot’ Message to Patriot’s Corporate Headquarters
On Heels of UMWA Lawsuit against Peabody, Patriot Officials Have “No Response”
Today, local activists, including Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment andJobs with Justice, carried the message of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) ‘Fairness at Patriot’ campaign to Patriot’s corporate offices.While police officers and the realtor kept activists outside, that group forced two Patriot officials to come downstairs. The Patriot representatives said that they had “no comment,” as activists reminded them their actions had the potential of killing ten thousand miners. Patriot Coal, which went bankrupt in July, is now threatening to shirk its pension and healthcare obligations to over ten thousand Appalachian miners.
“Patriot was a company set up to fail by Peabody Coal. Peabody purposefully passed off miners’ pensions to Patriot knowing that eventually Patriot would go bankrupt. The miners that made billions for these companies risked their lives everyday. Now, they must fight for their livelihoods, and we will hold Peabody Coal responsible,” said solidarity activist Andy Clubb of St. Louis.
Wearing red bandanas in honor the original “redneck” union members who fought during the Battle of Blair Mountain, the group of activists sang “Which side are you on?” and chanted “Pay Up, Peabody!” As they were escorted off the property, the group warned police officers and the realtor that they would be back at Patriot and Peabody to keep fighting for the blatant injustice both companies are causing. The UMWA has said they will do whatever it takes to win these pensions, including come to downtown St. Louis and engage in civil disobedience against Peabody.
Yesterday, as CEO Irl Engelhardt stepped down and was replaced by Bennett Hatfield, the UMWA filed a class action lawsuit against Peabody and Arch Coal, demanding that Peabody and Arch be held accountable for the promises made to miners. St. Louis-based Peabody Coal had a large role in the creation of Patriot. 78.5% of retirees affected by the Patriot bankruptcy last worked for Peabody, according to the UMWA. Peabody used the creation of Patriot not only to shed miner’s pensions but also to cover up its history of mountaintop removal coal mining.
This action is part of the Post-Peabody St. Louis Week of Action to divest St. Louis from Big Coal. The Post-Peabody St. Louis Week of Action targeted on Tuesday the United Way’s connections with Peabody by unfurling a banner, saying “Dirty Coal = Dirty Money.” Washington University students also called on the changing of the name of the Peabody-funded “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization” and the removal of CEO Greg Boyce from the Board of Trustees. On Wednesday, activists went to the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) in opposition to the SLDC’s proposal to give Peabody $500,000 more taxpayer dollars for “office renovations.”