Coal miners who are being stripped of medical benefits due to a string of coal company bankruptcies are furious over one firm’s plan to pay millions in bonuses to the executives who managed the company as it failed financially.
There was plenty in the complex deal to benefit bankers, lawyers, executives and hedge fund managers. Patriot Coal Corp. was bankrupt, but its mines would be auctioned to pay off mounting debts while financial engineering would generate enough cash to cover the cost of the proceedings.
Wielding a large rotating steel drum equipped with sharp tungsten carbide teeth, a continuous mining machine scrapes coal from the mine’s seams and drops it onto conveyor belts or into shuttle cars for transport to the surface.
Chester Fike was just in his 30s when he was diagnosed with black lung. As the disease progressed, the West Virginia coal miner was eventually so incapacitated that a simple walk with his family was impossible. In the summer of 2012, four months after a double lung transplant raised hopes for a second chance, Fike lost his fight for life at 60.