United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement after the Chapter 11 bankrutcy filing by Walter Energy last week.
“The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Walter Energy is yet another indication of just how troubled the American coal industry is today. Walter does not produce coal for the energy market; it mines metallurgical-grade coal that is a raw material in steel production. Increasing competition from other countries in a shrinking worldwide steel market has caused metallurgical coal prices to plunge to levels not seen for years.
“The UMWA has long anticipated this move by Walter Energy and already has financial experts and bankruptcy lawyers in place working on this alongside our in-house bankruptcy team. We will be meeting with the company going forward to ensure our members’ voices are part of this process going forward.
“It is important for our members working at Walter Energy facilities to know that nothing has changed with respect to their terms and conditions of employment. Any changes that may come would only be as a result of a Judge’s order months from now. It’s also important for retirees to know that their pensions are not affected by this filing, and their health care benefits will remain intact while this bankruptcy process plays out.
“The UMWA has demonstrated repeatedly over the last several years that we are prepared to do whatever it takes to fight for our members and their families when their companies are in bankruptcy. I want to assure our active and retired members at Walter Energy that it will be no different this time.”