Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sent a video message to the rally promising to fight for new legislation to protect the rights of 110,000 active and retired miners, including 35,000 in West Virginia.
"We must hold Peabody, Arch and Patriot to the promises they have made," Rockefeller said.
Janine Orf, Patriot's vice president for investor relations based in St. Louis, stated Monday: "Patriot is not proposing to eliminate health care for UMWA retirees. Rather, our proposal allows for meaningful health-care coverage for union retirees at a level that Patriot can afford."
Patriot is proposing the creation of a "voluntary employees' beneficiary association trust that would be administered by the UMWA or the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds."
The trust would receive funds from Patriot through "a significant ownership stake in the reorganized company," profit-sharing of up to $300 million and an initial cash donation of $15 million, according to Orf.
Voc Svec, Peabody Coal's senior vice president of investor relations and corporate communications, released a statement Monday denying any financial complicity with Patriot Coal.
Manchin said, "I have been to many rallies in the Civic Center, but I have never seen an overflow crowd like this."
Manchin criticized Patriot and Peabody. "I have told them, 'You can't make wrong right.' We are not going to let this happen .... We have sacrificed too much."
The state Senate and House of Delegates have passed resolutions calling Patriot Coal to meet its legal commitment to provide pension and health benefits to miners.
"This is an attack on all American workers who have retired," Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said at Monday's rally. "We can't allow these fraudulent transactions to take place."
Rahall said promises made in UMWA contracts "must be kept. Those who are responsible will be held responsible under our legislation. ... It will be an uphill battle, especially in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives."
During his speech, Trumka said, "The eyes of America are on us when we stand up against Wall Street cheats for the dignity of our workers."
Patriot, Trumka said, "stands for everything that is wrong in America today. It is against every American value .... You can't game the American system anymore. We won't let you do it anymore."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.