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UMWA hails Pennsylvania House passage of mine safety and health legislation

May 14, 2008
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UMWA hails Pennsylvania House passage of mine safety and health legislation

    Today’s passage of legislation revamping Pennsylvania’s 47-year old mine safety and health laws by the state House of Representatives represents a “strong step forward for miners throughout the Commonwealth,” said Cecil E. Roberts, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President.

    “A strong bipartisan majority voted today to bring Pennsylvania’s mine safety and health legislation in line with other coal-mining states and the federal government,” Roberts said. “Indeed, in many areas, Pennsylvania will be a leader in the nation when it comes to safety in the coal mines.”

    Today’s 182-13 vote on S.B. 949 came after the original Senate legislation was amended by the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee last month to include critically needed safety provisions the UMWA and its members had sought to strengthen the bill. Those amendments had been opposed by the Pennsylvania Coal Association and some of the coal operators’ allies in the Senate.

    “This was a courageous vote for many of these representatives,” UMWA International Secretary-Treasurer Daniel J. Kane said. “They were put under tremendous pressure from the industry to deny the crucial amendments–sought by actual coal miners–to the Senate bill. To their credit, they listened to those who actually mine the coal instead of those who make the profits from it.

    “Now this bill moves to a conference between the two houses to reach final agreement,” Kane said. “We believe the bill passed by the House sets the standard that must be followed, and we strongly urge all conferees to remember who it is they are working for in this legislation–coal miners and, by extension, their families.

    “They are the ones who need the enhanced protections included in the House version of the bill,” Kane said. “They are the ones who put their lives on the line every day to energize our state and our nation–not the operators sitting back in their offices. The entire Pennsylvania legislature has a chance to make a strong statement on behalf of real working families with this legislation. I sincerely hope it has the courage to do so.”

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