COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act introduced in House of Representatives

JULY 22, 2020

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

“I commend Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Representative David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and the 19 other members of the House who are sponsors and original co-sponsors of the COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday. This bill, if passed, will save miners’ lives.

“America’s miners have been on the job every day during this pandemic, producing the critical materials our nation has continued to need regardless of the virus. Many have contracted COVID-19, but because nearly all mines are located in more rural areas of the country, the spread of the virus has not been as severe as it has in other areas. That is now changing, and miners need the protection provided by this legislation now more than ever.

“Miners are especially prone to the dangers of COVID-19 because of the nature of their work. Unlike other professions where social distancing recommendations are practicable, mining requires the continuous clustering of people working in close proximity to one another. Wearing a mask is critical for safety, but it is not enough.

“Many individual mine operators and local unions have implemented their own measures in an attempt to mitigate the risks of exposure to this highly contagious virus. But those measures are not enforceable should the companies decide to backslide on them – and many are now doing just that.

“Miners need a uniform set of rules, enforced by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), to ensure that the highest level of precautionary measures are in place at every mine. This bill, and its companion bill in the Senate, S. 3710, will do that. Congress must act as soon as possible.”