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House passage of S-MINER Act a tremendous victory for miners throughout America

January 16, 2008

CONTACT:        Phil Smith

U.S. House passage of S-MINER Act a tremendous victory for coal miners throughout America

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

    “The vote by the House of Representatives today to pass H.R. 2768, the Supplemental MINER Act, is a strong first step toward a healthier and safer workplace for tens of thousands of American coal miners. It’s now time for the U.S. Senate to step up to the plate and pass this legislation as soon as possible.

    “I would like to thank Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) for their strong leadership on this issue, as well as all the other members who supported this legislation. Their courage in seeing this through the legislative process in the House, especially in the face of the slings and arrows of those who would see this initiative fail, has been inspiring.

    “Some argue that this bill is premature, that congressional action should wait until the provisions of the 2006 MINER Act are fully implemented so we can see how they work. That argument is flawed.

    “First, the 2006 MINER Act is primarily concerned with what happens after a safety incident occurs in a mine. There is next to nothing in that legislation that does anything to address keeping incidents from happening in the first place. The S-MINER Act has such language, and the UMWA believes that its passage and implementation will save lives.

    “Secondly, even after passage of the MINER Act, miners are still dying in our nation’s mines. Clearly, enough has not been done. I would like those who say we need to wait before we pass any more legislation to meet with the widow of the next miner killed when a conveyor belt catches on fire and tell her why they voted against requiring belts to be non-flammable.

    “Or perhaps they can explain their position to the widow of a miner who dies choking with black lung because there is still too much respirable dust in coal mines, another area the S-MINER Act addresses that was not part of the 2006 MINER Act.

    “President Bush has threatened to veto the S-MINER Act. I say, put it on his desk and make him do it. The U.S. House sent a strong message of support to America’s miners today by passing this bill. If the president wants to reinforce his administration’s record of indifference to the fate of coal miners, a veto will surely do the trick.”

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