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A Caterpillar D9 bulldozer pushes a mountain of coal at a rail/barge terminal on the Tennessee River. Calvert City, September 2010. (Image: Kentucky Photo File via Flickr - CC3)

United Mine Workers expects 5,000 at Pennsylvania rally

WAYNESBURG, Pa. (AP) — The United Mine Workers of America say they expect 5,000 people to rally and march in southwestern Pennsylvania to safeguard pensions and health benefits.

The union is concerned because environmental regulations on coal-burning plants have combined with abundant supplies of natural gas to drive down demand for coal at power plants.

Earlier this week, Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources asked a bankruptcy judge to let it break a union contract so the company can reorganize its finances.

The union says Friday’s rally and march from the Greene County Airport to the Greene County Fairgrounds is a “demonstration of solidarity” as the coal industry has dealt with down-sizing and bankruptcies.

The union says although judges can void contracts in bankruptcy court, the union must still agree to work under any amended contracts.

In related news, Gas line explosions bring new safety proposal.

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