Ruling Sides With Patriot Coal; Union Workers May Appeal

A U.S. bankruptcy judge approved Patriot Coal's request to impose wage and benefit cuts - a blow to union workers who had been fighting to have them restored. A federal bankruptcy judge in St. Louis gave the go ahead Wednesday to Patriot Coal to get rid of their collective bargaining agreement with the United Mine Workers of America, which can significantly cut health care and pension benefits to thousands of union workers and retirees. Patriot said the move will help it financially. Under this ruling, Patriot will be allowed to stop paying for retiree health care benefits as early as July. The Associated Press reports the union plans to appeal the decision.