FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- The United Mine Workers of America will hold a protest rally in Fairmont July 9 against Peabody Energy and Arch Coal -- two coal companies that shifted union miners to Patriot Coal, a company created in 2007.
Patriot filed for bankruptcy in July 2012, partly as the result of having to cover many health and pension benefits for 23,000 retirees and dependents.
The rally will protest a likely cutoff in retiree health benefits, as well as wage and benefit cuts to active miners, in the near future.
Speakers will include United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, UMW President Cecil Roberts, State Auditor Glen Gainer, State Treasurer John Perdue and Secretary of State Natalie Tenant.
Tuesday's rally will begin at 10 a.m. at Fairmont State University's football practice field in Fairmont.
Roberts predicted thousands of miners will attend the rally from Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
More than 90 percent of the retired miners whose health care is at risk never worked a single day for Patriot Coal, a company created "with insufficient assets to meet its liabilities to retired miners," the UMWA stated in a press release.