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5:16 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Judge OKs Patriot Coal, miners' union deal

A United Mine Worker of America protest in St. Louis on Monday, June 17, 2013.
Credit Rachel Lippmann / St. Louis Public Radio

Patriot Coal Corp. has a bankruptcy judge's go-ahead to enter into a new labor agreement with the nation's biggest miners' union, ending a long, acrimonious dispute.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States on Tuesday granted St. Louis-based Patriot's request to put in place the collective bargaining deal ratified Friday by the United Mine Workers of America.

The settlement restores most wage cuts that Patriot had sought as part of its reorganization. Pension benefits for thousands of retirees are maintained, and active employees will continue earning pension credit.

Last week, about 1,800 union members approved the agreement with 85 percent approval. Patriot operates mines in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Patriot has said the agreement will save $130 million a year for the next four years.