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UMWA President Roberts calls for passage of Senate mine safety legislation

date: 
May 18, 2006
For immediate release?: 
 

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

"The bi-partisan legislation passed today by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will move mine safety and health several steps forward, and I urge the entire U.S. Senate to pass this bill as soon as possible. Miners are still needlessly dying in America's coal mines, and this legislation can help stem that awful tide.

"Several senators worked very hard to get this legislation passed in the HELP Committee, especially Senator Enzi (R-Wy.), Senator Kennedy (D-Mass.), Senator Byrd (D-W. Va.), Senator Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), Senator Isakson (R-Ga.), Senator Murray (D-Wash..) and Senator Clinton (D-N.Y.).

"I also want to thank Senator Specter (R-Pa.) for his leadership on this issue and the initiative he has taken by sponsoring his own legislation.

"These senators heard the voices of the families of those so tragically killed this year, and followed through on their promise to act. That is a true testament to the senators' commitment to improve coal mine safety and health, and on behalf of this nation's coal miners, I thank them all.

"This legislation will give miners a fighting chance to survive incidents like what happened at the Sago mine and the Aracoma Alma mine earlier this year. It mandates increased storage of life-saving oxygen units in underground mines in areas where miners can get to those caches as they make their way out of a mine. It mandates flame-resistant lifelines so that miners can find their way out when visibility is impaired.

"The bill will also move us several steps forward in implementing improvements in communications with miners trapped underground and tracking their whereabouts, and it starts us down the path to improving both the number of and response time of trained, experienced mine rescue teams.

'Coal miners and their families need legislation improving mine safety and health, and they need it now. There have been none more eloquent and more persistent in fighting for better safety in the mines than those families who lost loved ones in the Sago and Aracoma tragedies this year. Frankly, I don't believe we would be seeing action this soon by Congress had it not been for those brave widows and fatherless children stepping up and demanding it.

"This legislation is a good start in the direction of improved coal mine safety and I urge Congress to act swiftly to pass it. But there is still more to do before America's coal miners will have the confidence - which every American worker should have - that they can come home safely to their families at the end of each day's work."

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