How many will Patriot Coal bankruptcy hurt?

A Gazette editorial from the Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Patriot Coal, based in Putnam County, is emerging from its second bankruptcy — but nobody yet knows how many West Virginia miners and retirees and their families will be injured.

The bankruptcy is “a final dirty trick for miners,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said last week. It added:

“Officials at the United Mine Workers of America make a convincing case that Patriot was designed to fail from conception. It was created, they argue, so that two of the nation’s largest coal companies, Peabody and St. Louis-based Arch Coal, could shed expensive union pension and health obligations promised to miners … Patriot wound up with nearly three times as many retirees as active employees — 90 percent of [the retirees] never worked for the company [Patriot].”

For example, hundreds of Illinois miners had worked for a Peabody mine supplying an Alcoa aluminum plant. Actuaries estimated that future pensions and health care for the Illinois workers would cost $40 million. Alcoa gave $22 million to cover this obligation — but Patriot took nearly all of it to pay four bankruptcy lawyers, plus costs.

Last week, Hillary Clinton said this deal is “outrageous and must be stopped…

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