Patriot's rejecting its union contract was legal but wrong - WBOY - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Patriot's rejecting its union contract was legal but wrong

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  • Transition team must act with urgency

    Transition team must act with urgency

    Friday, December 16 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-16 11:00:16 GMT

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

  • Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Friday, December 9 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-09 11:00:15 GMT

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

  • Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Friday, December 2 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-02 11:00:19 GMT

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

A promise is a promise. While a federal court judge recently ruled Patriot Coal has the authority to reject its collective bargaining agreement and modify retiree benefits, we think this sets a bad precedent.

Patriot Coal was formed as a spinoff of Peabody Energy. Patriot declared bankruptcy, claiming it could no longer afford $1.6 billion worker and retiree commitments. By wiping out Patriot's pension and health benefits, an estimated 10,000 retired West Virginia and Kentucky miners, plus 13,000 dependents, have been hit. The United Mine Workers of America alleged that the company did so to intentionally escape contracts negotiated with workers, but the judge sided with the company.

It's possible the union's requests were too much, but that is immaterial. The company agreed to its demands and should have lived up to its end of the deal. Those contracts were signed in good faith. Patriot's financial problems are lamentable; however, the company said it was going to do something and it should have done it.

This case is likely not over. We hope everyone can get back to the bargaining table and hammer out a compromise everyone can live with and both sides can uphold. 

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