Janine Orf, Patriot's vice president of investor relations, was out of her office in St. Louis on Monday. Representatives from Joele Frank, a New York City-based communications firm that represents Patriot, did not return a telephone call.
"Patriot is implementing changes as they were allowed to do by the judge," UMW national spokesman Phil Smith said Monday.
"Some terms and conditions for working miners are changing from what they were before. But we are still talking to them. We are not finished with negotiations," Smith said.
"Retiree health care remains intact and will remain intact at current levels through the end of August," Smith said.
In a letter to Patriot employees June 24, Patriot President and CEO Ben Hatfield wrote, "While Patriot and the UMWA have made substantial progress in our discussions, Patriot continues to lose money and will run out of cash if we do not act quickly.
"As we currently anticipate being in breach of our bank covenants beginning in July, Patriot has no choice but to implement new contract terms that achieve critical cost savings and put us on the path to becoming a viable company."
Today, Patriot covers many benefits for 23,000 retirees and dependents. After Patriot was created in 2007, it acquired all the union mines operated by Peabody Energy and Arch Coal east of the Mississippi. Many benefits those two companies promised to retired coal miners shifted to Patriot.
Roberts has called Peabody Energy and Arch Coal "the true architects of the Patriot bankruptcy." Patriot officials have said their company was not "designed to fail," as union leaders have alleged.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.