Business in America - America’s Dirtiest Coal Company
Jail is too good for the bastards who set this up.
If you go to the website of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Missouri, you can read more than 1,000 letters from retired coal miners and their widows.
Their words are like the lyrics to an endless Johnny Cash ballad, and even more heartbreaking. They tell the eternal tale of the greedy few, this time playing out in real time in our America.
Here’s the story: In the fall of 2007, Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU), the coal-mining giant, spun off all its unionized mines into a new company, Patriot Coal Corp. (PCXCQ) In the process, it got rid of the promises it had made over generations to coal miners and their families.
Or, as Peabody’s chief executive officer put it, “We’re reducing our legacy liabilities roughly $1 billion.” This was such a good idea that another coal giant, Arch Coal Inc. (ACI), unloaded its union mines on Patriot as well, though it cycled them first through yet another front. All totted up, Patriot now had 10,000 retirees and their health-care benefits on its books.
This company was designed to fail. Patriot is almost certainly the only five-year-old company on earth with three times as many retirees as employees, 90 percent of whom never worked for the company. And fail it did, declaring bankruptcy last summer. Now it’s going through Chapter 11 reorganization and hoping to emerge freed of its obligations for the pensions and medical care of those miners.