CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The United Mine Workers of America announced Monday it has reached a settlement with bankrupt Patriot Coal concerning the union's collective bargaining and health care agreements with the company.
The new agreement will also allow for the continuance of retiree health benefits, the union said. UMW officials and numerous politicians had decried Patriot's decision to alter its retiree benefits plan, which the company said was essential for its future survival.
The union said the new terms and conditions of employment "makes significant improvements" compared to the terms handed down by federal Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States, who is overseeing the Patriot Coal bankruptcy case.
Surratt-States' decision allowed Patriot to move forward with significant benefits cuts. It was handed down May 29, and went into effect July 1.
UMW International President Cecil Roberts said union and company officials negotiated several weeks to come up with a better settlement than the one approved by Surratt-States.
"After several weeks of nearly around-the-clock negotiations, I believe we have reached something that can be taken to the membership for ratification," Roberts said.
"We have been able to restore, or at least improve upon, many of the most drastic changes that the Judge ordered, including in the area of wages, health care benefits, paid time off, pensions, and more," he said.
"In addition, we have negotiated a mechanism that will allow retiree health care benefits to continue," Roberts said.