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United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts Hails West Virginia Legislature's Passage of Resolution In Support of Hor

date: 
March 24, 2005

Roberts Calls on Congress to Act Swiftly to Reform Bankruptcy Laws, Strengthen Coal Act

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts praised the West Virginia Legislature's passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 58, saying that, "With this demonstration of its strong support for the active and retired Horizon miners, the Legislature is sending a clear message to Congress that quick action needs to be taken to prevent what happened to these coal miners from happening again to any other coal miners or any other working family anywhere in America."

SCR 58 calls on Congress to investigate the loss of insurance coverage for active and retired coal miners due to Horizon's bankruptcy and determine what changes need to be made to the nation's bankruptcy laws to "ensure that workers' health and pension benefits are protected."

"The UMWA has not wavered in its position that the decision of a single bankruptcy court judge should not be allowed to strip away the health care benefits the Horizon miners and retirees spent their lives working to earn," Roberts said. "It's especially galling that the judge ignored the will of Congress and paid no heed to the obligations Horizon or any successor company has to contribute to retiree health care benefits under the Coal Act. As U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd said so eloquently last week on the floor of the United States Senate, 'One judge overturned a sixty year-old promise that had been codified by the Congress and endorsed by three presidents. It was a disgraceful, shameful act.'"

"The emotional and financial impact on these miners, retirees and their families have been and will continue to be tremendous burdens for them," Roberts said. "The UMWA has helped where we can, especially with respect to providing temporary health care coverage. But it's incumbent upon Congress to act to make sure no other group of workers ever have to suffer like the Horizon miners and their families have."

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