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Some strange bedfellows for UMW in Patriot case

UNITED Mine Workers of America Union President Cecil Roberts has some strange bedfellows in his crusade to have Patriot Coal Corp.'s bankruptcy court case moved from Manhattan to Charleston.

Joining the union's motion to transfer venue: The U.S.

Trustee, American Electric Power, Monongahela Power Co., Dominion Hope, the State of West Virginia, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

A separate motion to transfer venue has been filed by Argonaut Insurance Co., Indemnity National Insurance Co., US Specialty Insurance and Westchester Fire Insurance Co.

A hearing on the change-ofvenue motions was held Tuesday. A decision is pending.

On the subject of Patriot Coal's bankruptcy: Company creditors holding the 10 largest unsecured claims: Wilmington Trust Co., US Bank, Alpha Natural Resources Inc., Bentley Badgett II and Linda Badgett, American Freedom Innovations, Dayton Power & Light, Jennmar Corp., Richard Whiting, Cecil I. Walker Machinery Co. and Joy Mining Machinery.

During last month's West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Business Summit at The Greenbrier resort, Steel of West Virginia President and CEO Timothy Duke suggested some improvements that the state could make to its business climate.

As reported in this column, Duke said of unemployment taxes: "If you hire 380 workers in Indiana and 380 in West Virginia and pay them the same and never lay anyone off, over a 10year period you will pay $469,000 in Indiana versus $1,231,000 in West Virginia." That prompted an email from reader Jim Fisher.

"Your article indicated that unemployment taxes in West Virginia versus Indiana would be $200 more per employee per year over a 10-year period," Fisher wrote. "West Virginia chose several years ago to increase their taxable wage base rather than borrow from the federal government. Indiana has now imposed an insolvency surcharge to make up for deficits they incurred during the recession. Over a longer term, unemployment taxes in West Virginia may be lower than Indiana."

Good point!

According to an Aug. 16 article published on the Evansville Courier & Press website, Indiana currently owes the federal government about $1.7 billion it borrowed during the Great Recession to pay benefits to unemployed workers.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. said its Pinnacle Mine, 30 miles southwest of Beckley, set a world production record last month.

The company said that beginning with the Aug. 30 evening shift, a longwall plow produced 32,430 tons of coal in a 24-hour period.

That broke the previous record, 26,898 tons, set earlier this year in Poland, the company said.

Jon Lester, Pinnacle's general manager, said in a prepared statement, "This is a significant accomplishment not only for our longwall crews, but for everyone who works at the Pinnacle Mine."

Reach George Hohmann at or 304-348-4836. Follow him at



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