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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A bankrupt coal producer says it has imposed wage and benefit cuts affecting thousands of its workers, but that the pullbacks are less severe than those authorized by a judge.

But St. Louis-based Patriot Coal Corp. added Tuesday that it will keep retiree health care benefits unchanged for the next two months.

Patriot didn't detail the cuts it has adopted, more than a month after a bankruptcy judge empowered Patriot to abandon its collective-bargaining agreements.

Patriot says its continued bargaining with the United Mine Workers of America union has produced "substantial progress."

A spokesman for the union isn't talking publicly about Patriot's cuts imposed Monday, saying only that the union is still meeting with the company to make further improvements over the bankruptcy court's order.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is weighing whether to sign legislation that would allow children's non-related legal guardians to receive adoption subsidies.

Currently only grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings or cousins can get state-sponsored subsidies when they become the legal guardians of a child.

But a bill passed by the Legislature would expand that list to include people who are not blood relatives if their lives and those of a child are "intermingled" in a manner similar to a family relationship.

The subsidies are payments given to guardians to help pay for the child's care.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. John Lamping, of St. Louis.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Legislation awaiting action by Gov. Jay Nixon seeks to comply with federal mandates for Missouri's unemployment benefits system.

The measure also could make it more difficult for workers to receive jobless benefits if they are let go after an unapproved absence or if they knowingly violate a company rule.

The legislation would broaden the definition of what constitutes "misconduct." Jobless benefits can be denied to workers who lose their position because of misbehavior.

The unemployment legislation also includes changes aimed at complying with requirements from the federal government. Failing to comply could cost employers more than $800 million in federal tax credits while state government could lose a couple hundred million dollars for programs.

Lawmakers gave the legislation final approval before adjourning last week.

 

Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A bankrupt St. Louis-based coal company's push to significantly cut thousands of retirees' health care and pension benefits is in the hands of a judge.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States has until May 29 to decide the matter that last week was argued before her by attorneys for Patriot Coal Corp. and the United Mine Workers of America union. It's not clear how soon any ruling may come.

Patriot's proposed benefits cuts have been the most contentious aspect of its bankruptcy case since the Peabody Energy Corp. spinoff filed for Chapter 11 protection last summer. The company says it would have to spend $1.6 billion to cover retirees' health care costs, and that if that didn't change it might risk liquidation.

The union considers the cuts immoral, drastic and unfair.

 

Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Patriot Coal Corp. has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to modify collective bargaining agreements with the United Mine Workers of America, allowing the coal company to cut health care coverage for retired miners.

St. Louis-based Patriot said in the filing on Thursday that the action is necessary to save more than 4,000 jobs. Patriot also seeks to change wages, benefits and work rules for existing workers in an effort to make the company more competitive.

Union leaders have been anticipating the move for some time, holding protests in St. Louis last month that drew more than 1,000 people. UMWA President Cecil Roberts says the loss of benefits would cause financial ruin and threaten the health for thousands of retirees.

Patriot filed for bankruptcy in July.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri man is trying to get a routine state benefit after his partner died in the line of duty, even though the state does not recognize gay marriage.

Kelly Glossip is suing the Missouri Highway Patrol for denying benefits designed for the surviving spouse of a slain public safety official. His partner, Dennis Engelhard, was hit and killed by a vehicle while investigating an accident in 2009.

The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday, with Glossip's attorney arguing that survival benefits should not be denied on the basis of sexual orientation. The state says the benefits are intended for spouses and the men's relationship does not fall into that classification.

The court did not rule on the case and offered no timetable for a decision.
Published in Local News

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