The United Methodist Appalachian Ministry Network was joined by staff members of the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) and several bishops in endorsing an open letter criticizing the “scheme” of Peabody Energy and Arch Coal to eliminate health care for more than 23,000 retired workers.
The open letter coordinated by Religious Leaders for Coalfield Justice (RLCJ), Stanton, Ky., and Interfaith Work Justice (IWJ), Chicago, was endorsed by more than 200 religious leaders and organizations. The letter was the latest in a long-running confrontation with Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal company in the world, over its attempts to undermine contracts it has signed with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) at some of its mines, and the company’s efforts to block unions at others.
This week IWJ and RLCJ released the results of a fact-finding mission that looked into the plight of more than 23,000 retired Peabody and Arch miners who could lose their health care as a result of demands in U.S. Bankruptcy Court by Patriot Coal, a spin-off company created to hold Peabody and Arch’s obligations, including retiree benefits. By declaring bankruptcy, Patriot hopes to eliminate some $1.6 billion in health-care and retirement security obligations.
Interfaith Worker Justice and the Religious Leaders for Coalfield Justice claim that Arch and Peabody Coal are waging a war on the aging, ill and disabled.
The groups convened at a meeting in Charleston on April 9 to hear testimony of workers who are struggling under the possibility of losing retiree benefits as Patriot Coal goes through bankruptcy proceedings. The United Mine Workers of America has claimed that the progenitor company – Peabody Coal – purposely placed weak assets and crippling liabilities into the spinoff that created Patriot in 2007.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A new report criticizing Arch Coal and Peabody Energy for creating Patriot Coal was released Tuesday by two groups of religious leaders -- Interfaith Worker Justice and Religious Leaders for Coalfield Justice.
More than 23,000 working and retired miners, and their spouses, could lose health-care benefits, the report warns, especially in the wake of Patriot's recent bankruptcy filing.
"Schemes from the Boardroom: The War by Arch and Peabody On the Aging, Ill and Disabled" argues the two major coal companies moved their union workers to Patriot Coal to avoid paying health-care and other retirement benefits.
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Worker advocates have turned to a new tool to educate low-wage employees about wage theft. Welcome the comic book. The first issue of "Wage Theft: Crime & Justice," published by Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice, may not be coveted by comic book collectors, but clients at worker centers around the country are poring over the bilingual book to learn how best to regain wages owed to them by deceitful employers.
U.S. employers routinely violate the seventh commandment when they refuse to pay their workers their legally mandated wages.
Growing up in what she describes as a “pretty conservative church background” in Ohio, Kim Bobo excelled at memorizing her Bible verses. “I won all the contests,” she remembers. “It has served me well in my life. You can’t really know the scriptures and not realize their core commitment to caring for our neighbor. My life has been about trying to figure out how I play a role in helping people and how I can do that in the most effective way possible.”
Throughout her career, which has included stints as an organizer for Bread for the World, as the “church lady” in a training center for organizers, and as the founder and director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), Bobo has consistently worked to energize faith communities in the pursuit of social justice.
Imagine you’ve just landed a job with a big-time retailer. Your task is to load and unload boxes from trucks and containers. It’s back-breaking work. You toil 12 to 16 hours a day, often without a lunch break. Sweat drenches your clothes in the 90-degree heat, but you keep going: your kids need their dinner. One day, your supervisor tells you that instead of being paid an hourly wage, you will now get paid for the number of containers you load or unload. This will be great for you, your supervisor says: More money! But you open your next paycheck to find it shrunken to the point that you are no longer even making minimum wage. You complain to your supervisor, who promptly sends you home without pay for the day. If you pipe up again, you’ll be looking for another job.
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Watch Chicago's ABC 7 on Sunday, April 31 at 1 p.m. CST for a special on worker and immigrant rights featuring IWJ's Kim Bobo, Board Member Elena Segura and the Rev. CJ Hawking, executive director of IWJ affiliated ARISE Chicago!
Last month was the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act, a common-sense bill that has been good for workers and good for business
The act is actually quite modest. It requires that large employers allow workers who have worked for them at least 12 months and 1,250 hours to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and then return to their jobs.
Every year millions of Americans are victims of what some call wage theft -- a practice in which a company fails to compensate workers for their time, short-changes them on their benefits or intentionally misclassifies employees in order to save money. And even though all that is illegal, Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice and author of "Wage Theft in America," says it's surprisingly common in the U.S.
To celebrate four decades of muckraking on issues of race and poverty, we kick off this 40th anniversary edition with a focus on four of The Chicago Reporter’s key beats--criminal justice, immigration, labor and housing.