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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Members of the United Mine Workers of America have voted to ratify a settlement with bankrupt Patriot Coal.
The union said Friday night that current or laid-off Patriot workers in West Virginia and Kentucky voted 85 percent to 15 percent in favor of the agreement reached late last week.
Some 1,800 members from 13 locals were voting.
St. Louis-based Patriot says it wants the company to survive, and union President Cecil Roberts says a deal may let that happen.
The settlement would restore most wage cuts that Patriot had sought as part of its reorganization.
Roberts says the deal also reduces the restoration of some benefits and the continuation of others.
Pension benefits for thousands of current retirees would be maintained, and active employees would continue earning pension credit.
A settlement has been reached between the United Mine Workers of America and St. Louis-based Patriot Coal. It's been a long, hard-fought battle between the mine workers and Patriot Coal, as well as Patriot's parent company, Peabody Energy. UMWA president Cecil Roberts says the new terms and conditions of employment are "significant improvements" over what was previously ordered by a bankruptcy judge in May. Roberts says the new agreement now heads to the UMWA members for ratification. That will take place on Friday. The mine workers say that Peabody spun off Patriot Coal in an attempt to avoid paying union wages and health benefits to employees. The details of the new agreement won't be released until after the union votes on Friday.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A bankrupt coal producer says it has imposed wage and benefit cuts affecting thousands of its workers, but that the pullbacks are less severe than those authorized by a judge.
But St. Louis-based Patriot Coal Corp. added Tuesday that it will keep retiree health care benefits unchanged for the next two months.
Patriot didn't detail the cuts it has adopted, more than a month after a bankruptcy judge empowered Patriot to abandon its collective-bargaining agreements.
Patriot says its continued bargaining with the United Mine Workers of America union has produced "substantial progress."
A spokesman for the union isn't talking publicly about Patriot's cuts imposed Monday, saying only that the union is still meeting with the company to make further improvements over the bankruptcy court's order.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Prospects of a strike involving union workers at Patriot Coal Corp. are intensifying after a bankruptcy judge signed off on the company's push to abandon its labor agreement with the miners.
Bargaining between the United Mine Workers of America and St. Louis-based Patriot has taken a break, with the company empowered by the judge's May 29 ruling.
That decision allows Patriot to make deep cuts to benefits for thousands of retirees, while also altering its labor deal involving existing employees.
The union and the company say they are negotiating in good faith, though the union says what's on the table right now may be sent to the membership for consideration of whether a strike is in order.
Patriot counters that a walkout could force it to liquidate.
The United Mine Workers are unhappy with the decision of a bankruptcy court to side with Patriot Coal today. The ruling is the latest chapter in saga concerning benefits for retired miners. Patriot Coal is an independent company, but was created by spinning off part of Peabody Energy. Patriot argued they needed to cut retiree's benefits to stay in business. The Miners argued they had been promised benefits and should not have them taken away. The decision came on the last day the court could rule on the matter.