Citizens United To Reform Bankruptcy Laws Blog

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Help Reform Federal Bankruptcy Laws

On August 31, 2004 U.S Bankruptcy Judge William Howard finalized a decision allowing Horizon Natural Resources to file bankruptcy, thus voiding union contracts providing health care to 3,000 employees, including 2,300 retirees -- many of which suffer from black lung for their years of service at Horizon.
Those especially devastated by the judge's ruling are the 2,300 retirees. Most are unable to return to the workforce because of age, sickness (black lung, mining related injuries, etc.) or cannot afford to find alternative medical coverage or unable to qualify for government-assisted medical plans. July 20, 2004 Horizon Rally

Many of Horizon's workers gave 30 to 50 years of their lives providing coal, the very resource that runs electric plants and provides light for us all and helped to build this country's industries and win World Wars. Their years of hard work were costly ones.

With one stroke of a pen, Howard took away everything they had earned during their years of service for Horizon. Now retirees are wondering how they are going to pay for their medical bills, some have seen their pensions robbed, widows and children of departed miners have been cut off, communities have been economically devastated and thousands have been left disillusioned and feeling their country's laws have let them down.

Sadly what Horizon Natural Resources did is a part of a grown trend in the United States. Corporations have found a legal way to get out of paying promised benefits, pensions, medical, honoring union contracts and debts to their creditors. These companies after filing bankruptcy do not cease to exist, instead they are given a fresh slate and continue operating, often without rehiring the workers they laid off during the bankruptcy and instead opting to hire replacements at a much lower pay.

Every street corner near the courthouse was lined with protesters like these.
Right now several large national airlines and other large corporations are threatening to do exactly what Horizon did and file bankruptcy. Thousands of other workers, families, communities and local economies will be devastated unless we take a stand to Reform Federal Bankruptcy Laws.

This is not simply a coal miners issue...instead its an issue facing all of working class America.

Today it was Horizon's employees and retirees...Tomorrow it could be you.