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Union chief blasts Patriot bankruptcy

Mar. 19, 2013 @ 07:22 AM

ST. LOUIS — The top official with a national miners’ union on Monday called bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp.’s bid to cut retiree health care immoral, as it seeks millions of dollars for executive bonuses and faces mounting payouts of $16 million in legal fees and expenses.

“Patriot has thousand-dollar-an-hour lawyers and two-dollar-an-hour morals,” United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts told reporters, four days after St. Louis-based Patriot filed a request in bankruptcy court to modify its collective bargaining agreements with the union.

In pursuing Chapter 11 bankruptcy last July, Patriot cited exceptionally soft coal markets, rising costs and “unsustainable legacy liabilities” tied to its 2007 spinoff from St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp. Patriot said coal markets have only worsened since then, contributing to what the company now says are crushing labor and retirement benefit expenses requiring “critical financial relief in a timeframe that avoids severe business disruption.”

Patriot, claiming its retiree health liability has ballooned to $1.6 billion, last week proposed creating a trust with a maximum of $300 million from future profit-sharing to fund some level of those benefits, with Patriot making an initial contribution of $15 million.

EPA asks dismissal of case involving chickens
ELKINS, W.Va. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants a judge to dismiss a West Virginia chicken grower’s lawsuit over water-pollution orders the agency issued against her then withdrew in December, arguing the case is now moot.

But court filings show Eight is Enough farm operator Lois Alt plans to join the West Virginia and American Farm Bureaus in trying to keep the case alive. They contend the underlying issues still need to be heard in court because they could potentially affect poultry growers nationwide, requiring them to seek discharge permits under the Clean Water Act that they don’t all currently need. 

In a motion to dismiss last week, the EPA told U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey the legal issues Alt had raised are now moot, and that an actual controversy must exist at every stage in the litigation for it to survive.

Frontier cautions its customers about scam
CHARLESTON — Frontier Communications has issued a notice alerting the public to a scam.
The company says an increasing number of Frontier customers in West Virginia report being contacted by individuals claiming to be Frontier employees or stating that their company is part of or acting on behalf of Frontier.

“These scammers suggest they are affiliated with Frontier and then try to convince our customers to switch service to another company,” Dana Waldo, senior vice president and general manager, said in a press release.

Chrysler recalls Dodge Challengers for fire risk
DETROIT — Chrysler is telling owners of about 2,500 Dodge Challenger muscle cars with V-6 engines not to drive them because a short in a wiring circuit can set them on fire.

Owners also are being told not to park the cars in a garage or near a structure until the problem can be fixed.

The cars are from the 2013 model year and have V-6 engines. They were made during the eight weeks that ended Jan. 24.

Chrysler wouldn’t identify exactly where the short occurs, but said it’s in a place that most owners would never see. Six fires were reported that damaged cars, but no one was hurt, the company said in a statement.

A seventh incident is still being investigated.

The company is notifying owners by telephone and mail and will provide loaner cars.

until repairs are made, at no cost to the owners. Chrysler also will transport the cars to dealerships to make the repairs, spokesman Eric Mayne said.

Challenger owners who have questions should contact their dealers, he said.



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