Patriot Coal bankruptcy
Here are a few facts you may not know about Patriot Coal and their filing for bankruptcy unless you are WMWA member. In 2007, Peabody Energy spun off a company called Patriot. They took all of their lower producing; non-union coal companies and put them into Patriot. They also took every one of their UMWA retirees and put them in this company. They top-loaded this company with more debt than it could handle.
At the same time, Arch did the same thing. Is it strange those two large coal-producing companies should do the same thing at almost the same time? Arch started a company called Magnum. They put all of their UMWA retirees into Magnum. Patriot purchased Magnum about three years ago. There’s no doubt that this was a calculated effort to allow these companies to get rid of their pension and medical liability. Patriot is now intentionally top-heavy, with not enough mining activity to support it. This company was made to fail. Anyone should be able to see this.
If they thought they had a legitimate shot in West Virginia, they wouldn’t have filed for bankruptcy in New York State. Only two of the 99 Patriot subsidiaries seeking Chapter 11 protection are in New York, and both of those units — Patriot Beaver Dam Holdings LLC and PCX Enterprises Inc. — were created just weeks before the bankruptcy cases were filed. Though a large number of its mines, employees and retirees are in West Virginia, Patriot defended its creation of New York shell corporations only days before as the legal foundation for their choice of the New York court. It’s a loophole, it’s legal, and Patriot is entitled to use it, the company said.
The UMWA has requested a change of venue to move the case to West Virginia. In an unusual move, the U.S. Trustee for New York filed a motion in August asking that the case be moved. The trustee didn’t specify another court; just that it should be moved from New York “in the interest of justice.” It is unclear if the request will be granted. Bankruptcy lawyers and restructuring professionals are awaiting word from Judge Shelley C. Chapman in Manhattan New York about whether Patriot Coal’s Chapter 11 proceeding should be moved to Charleston, West Virginia.
You might ask yourself why would they be so interested in one coal company’s Chapter 11. If Peabody Energy and Arch Coal aka Patriot is allowed to get away with this atrocity then no pension or medical liability will be safe in the United States of America. If you think this will not affect you, think again.
Elected officials do help
Many times people complain that when politicians are elected, they simply forget the common man, many of whom help put them in office. In recent weeks, as a person who helped lead the charge to save the homes of the people of Rita Coal Camp, I have seen some of our elected officials in action. I am pleased to say that when we, the people, exercise our duties as citizens and work within the system our elected officials can help the common person gain resolution to many problems that seem hopeless.
A lot of people thought it impossible to fight a big out of state company that was trying to evict them from homes they lived in for years. These folks thought they had no choice but to just be forced to move. Most didn’t have the money to move or even places to move to.
After some calls to our elected officials, good things began to happen. Calls were made to land owners. Meetings were held and different government agencies got involved. In short, the folks of Rita Coal Camp were well represented by the people elected to serve them. Thanks to Art Kirkendoll, Rick Grimmett, Rupie Phillips, Raamie Barker and Nick Rahall, also to Martha Sparks of The Logan Banner for her coverage of this issue.
James H. Blunt
West Virginia Hospitality Last weekend some family, friends and I came to Logan to experience the Hatfield McCoy ATV trails. We had a great time and were impressed with the friendliness of the people in the area — ranging from the staff at the Holiday Inn Express, restaurants and other local businesses, to locals we met while in town and on the trails. Everyone was friendly and helpful.
However, the most amazing act of hospitality and kindness was from a man named Jeffery Noll residing in Madison. On the way home on Monday our truck broke down. My brother and I stayed behind to wait for the tow truck. Several people stopped to see if they could help. Jeff stopped and offered water and food. He also stayed with us for several hours until the tow truck arrived to transport our truck, trailer and ATVs back to Pennsylvania at nearly 4 a.m. He let us store two ATVs (that wouldn’t fit in the tow truck) at his home and drove us to a hotel.
In the morning, he picked us up and took us to U Haul. He never asked for anything in return even though he has been out of work and may be losing his home. Jeff has worked in the coal and logging industry and has been around heavy equipment for many years.
We are all home now, but Jeff could still use some kindness himself. Thank you, Jeff!