Some Consol Benefits Lost
Union retirees not affected by health cuts
17 April 2014
By Ian Hicks, Staff Writer , The / News-Register
BENWOOD - Effective Dec. 31, Murray Energy Corp. will cut off
health benefits to salaried retirees from the five West Virginia
coal mines it bought from Consol Energy in December, company
officials confirmed Wednesday.
Retirees affected include those at the company's Ohio County Mine
in Benwood, formerly known as the Shoemaker Mine, and at the
former McElroy Mine near Moundsville, now known as the Marshall
County Mine. The decision will also impact retirees from two
Marion County, W.Va., mines and another mine straddling the
Monongalia County, W.Va.-Greene County, Pa., border that Murray
also acquired in its $3.5 billion deal with Consol.
The move won't impact union members, who will continue to receive
coverage according to their United Mine Workers of America
contract, which expires at the end of 2015.
According to published reports, almost 1,200 retirees - including
about 1,030 in West Virginia - will lose their health insurance,
although the company declined to comment on the figure. The
purchase agreement between Consol and Murray Energy calls for the
St. Clairsville-based company to continue providing health
benefits for at least one year following the closing date of Dec.
Murray officials said this will bring the five West Virginia mines
in line with the rest of the company, which does not provide
medical insurance to its salaried retirees. Those operations
include the Century Mine near Beallsville and the Powhatan No. 6
mine near Powhatan Point.
The company also cited tightening U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency regulations targeting carbon emissions as a factor in the
"Murray Energy's inability to provide these benefits is, in part,
due to the destruction of the coal industry, including our
markets, by the Obama administration and its appointees and
supporters, who have eliminated the livelihood of thousands of
coal miners, and their families, by the forced closing of 392
coal-fired electric power plants in America, now and in the
immediate future," the company said in a prepared statement issued
by spokesman Gary Broadbent.
Murray declined to provide a copy of the letter sent to retirees
informing them of the loss of benefits. The company said it has
provided those affected with information about alternate coverage,
and estimate 80 percent of the lost benefits can be made up
In October, Consol announced its intention to sell the five West
Virginia mines to Murray Energy for $3.5 billion, a move company
officials said would allow it to focus on its growing natural gas
The sale more than doubled Murray's total employment from 3,300 to
7,100 and nearly tripled the company's total coal reserves from
859 million tons to almost 2.4 billion tons. It also vaulted the
company into fifth-place in annual American coal production.
Earlier this month, Consol announced its natural gas production
for the first quarter of 2014 had increased 23 percent over the
same period last year.