[TRIANGLE, VA] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“The final rule issued this week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs is a tremendous step forward in breaking down many of the barriers miners face as they try to get their claims awarded for black lung disease they contracted as a result of working in America’s coal mines.
“This rule will mean that coal companies can no longer hide medical information from coal miners. All too frequently, companies would discover severe medical conditions, including the existence of black lung disease. But instead of sharing this life-saving information, the companies would keep it to themselves. That travesty will be over under this rule.
“This rule will also ensure that miners who have been awarded black lung benefits will actually get them during an appeals process. Far too many companies refuse to pay benefits while appealing an award, meaning that miners are frequently denied that small measure of comfort in their last days.
“As we work to end the scourge of black lung once and for all, it is critical that we provide all assistance possible to those who have contracted this awful disease. They went to work every day, did their jobs and provided for their families while producing the raw material that powers America. They have earned these benefits, many times over.”