FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 17, 2017
No time to waste to protect health care and pension benefits for retired miners, widows
[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“With today’s introduction of the Miners Protection Act (MPA) by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and 18 other Senators from both parties, this critical legislation is now available for action in both houses of Congress. Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va) introduced it in the House on Jan. 2. I thank them and all of the bills’ co-sponsors in both houses.
“Congress passed a temporary stop-gap measure at the end of the last session in December that preserved retiree health care benefits for 16,500 people for a four-month period. That is clearly insufficient, as both Republican and Democratic leadership in both houses have indicated. Congress must act, and act fast, to resolve this issue and allow these senior citizens to live their lives without a continuing sense of doom hanging over their heads.
“This issue has been before Congress for more than four years now. Representatives and Senators of both parties support the MPA, and have for years. The Senate Majority Leader and the President-elect support the long-term preservation of health care benefits for these retirees, which we appreciate very much, although we need to preserve their pensions as well. The funding source is already there, and a way to pay for it without increasing the deficit is there as well.
“There is simply no reason not to act, and act quickly. We cannot allow the health care and pension benefits these miners earned in sweat and blood to be stripped away from them. They did everything our nation asked of them, providing the fuel that made America the greatest power on earth.
“Lives are on the line. Regional and local economies are on the line. Congress has stepped up and honored America’s moral promise to these miners on multiple occasions. It must do so again, and without delay.”