Miner pensions in jeopardy unless lawmakers act

Source: WTOV9

Pensions for almost 100,000 coal miners and their families are in jeopardy.

Now, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is teaming up with many Ohio Valley miners. They’re asking for other lawmakers and the public to back them.

The biggest thing Manchin wanted to stress–this is not a government bailout. He says if the bill isn’t passed it could actually cost taxpayers more in the long-run with other government assistance.

Denny Pickens is a United Mine Worker retiree. He’s teamed up with Manchin and other state representatives to push a pension bill.

“I have widows call me,” Pickens said. “I am a past president of my local and without these pensions, I don’t know what they’ll do and it’s a sad phone call when you have to tell someone we don’t know where this is going.”

Pickens says the bill would save the funds for almost 100,000 miners and their families. Manchin and other miners have been meeting in Washington, D.C. with lawmakers concerning the pension issue.

“These are not elaborate pensions and most of them average around $500 and there are a lot of widows that if they lose that in the next year o r two, they lost everything,” Manchin said.

Manchin says the bill should have passed last month, but he says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fought the act. Without a compromise, leaders say the fight could actually shut down the government.

Manchin and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have pledged to block a federal funding bill unless Republicans act. Other lawmakers from the Ohio Valley are also supporting the pension bill.

“People want to think this is a government bailout, but we are not asking for a taxpayer bailout,” Manchin said. “We are not asking for anything but what our miners have earned. They worked for it and negotiated for it.”

The benefits will expire at the end of the year unless the senate steps in. Manchin urges people to contact lawmakers.

by Crissy Clutter