CHARLESTON – House Majority Whip Mike Caputo took the floor today to urge passage of a resolution calling for Peabody and Arch Coal to live up to their obligations to active and retired miners, their families and widows.
“Patriot Coal was created by Peabody and Arch coal companies to fail so that those companies wouldn’t have to pay promised benefits to retired miners and their families,” Caputo said. “What’s really sad is that Peabody and Arch have the money to make this right but I doubt that they ever will.
“Arch promised; Arch lied. Peabody promised; Peabody lied.”
The House adopted by a 93-4 vote House Resolution 28, which states: “The loss of promised health care and retirement benefits jeopardizes the health and security of UMWA active, laid off and retired members and their dependents.. and .. the loss of promised health care and retirement benefits, if not addressed, could push many local communities into a financial crisis.”
During his floor speech, Caputo held up pictures of retirees disabled by accident and illness who are losing health benefits and joined the UMWA in protests in St. Louis during the course of bankruptcy proceedings. They, along with Caputo, were arrested as an act of civil disobedience.
“They all went to jail for the first time in their lives ... pillars of their communities decided it was time to make a statement,” Caputo said.
The House resolution pledges to join the United Mine Workers of America in the fight to protect and maintain mine workers' pensions and health care from assaults by these and other coal operators.
“If they get away with this many people who are dependent on life-saving medications just simply won’t be able to afford it and they will die,” Caputo said. “There’s just no nice way to put that -- they will die.”