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Patriot Coal offers miners stake in company

   Patriot Coal is offering the mine workers union a 35 percent stake in the reorganized company.  The offer is aimed at winning support for benefit and wage cuts for thousands of active miners, retirees and beneficiaries.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Patriot sent the offer to the United Mine Workers of America on Wednesday.  

   The move comes less than three weeks before the Creve Coeur-based coal producer and the union are set to clash in a bankruptcy hearing after negotiating over the proposed cuts for months.  Patriot says it must cut $150-million in operating expenses in order to survive.  The company says they only place left to cut is wages and benefits.  

   Patriot spun off from St. Louis-based Peabody Energy in 2007, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July of last year.  

   The UMWA has organized several demonstrations outside Peabody's downtown headquarters since then.  The union argues that Peabody should maintain responsibility for Patriot's obligations to it's union workers, especially retirees.

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