October 8, 2015
By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel
The Patriot Coal Corp.’s bankruptcy proceedings may have one main casualty: health care for 208 Indiana miners, wives, and widows. They worked at the now-defunct Squaw Creek mine near Evansville, which provided coal to a nearby Alcoa aluminum plant, and were guaranteed lifetime health-insurance coverage once they turned 55.
But in late September, lawyers for Patriot filed papers in federal bankruptcy court in Richmond stating that the company had been paid $22 million by Alcoa to take over responsibility for the miners’ coverage—and that it was going to use $18 million of that to cover legal fees for the proceedings. The money left over is expected to cover the retirees’ health care for less than two years. “What we’re seeing here is a very shady deal to deprive 200-plus elderly and working Americans of the benefits they’ve earned so that these lawyers can put money in their pockets,” said United Mine Workers spokesperson Phil Smith. Read more