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Patriot bankruptcy protest prompts arrests

ST. LOUISTwelve demonstrators have been arrested following a protest by mine workers and their supporters in a dispute with St. Louis-based Patriot Coal.

The United Mine Workers of America staged another huge protest Monday in downtown St. Louis. A spokesman for the union says 12 people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience.

Patriot wants to make significant changes to health benefits for retired miners and reduce pay and benefits for current miners. The company says the moves are necessary for survival. Union leaders say Patriot was set up to fail when it spun off from St. Louis-based Peabody Energy in 2007, so that benefits could be eliminated.

After Peabody spun off Patriot, the new company bought Magnum Coal, which like Patriot came saddled with huge retiree obligations. Now, retired miners with serious health problems are losing long-promised health and retirement benefits.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge has given Patriot the go-ahead for its changes.

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