FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 23, 2020
[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“The report from the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is right on the money and reinforces what the United Mine Workers have been saying for years: It is long past time for MSHA to fulfill its responsibilities and act to protect miners from silicosis or progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). MSHA knows what measures it must take in order to ensure safe and healthy work environments for the nation’s miners and it has known it for years. The Agency has a responsibility to enact those measures.
“On June 19, 2019, the UMWA, along with the United Steel Workers (USW), sent a joint letter to Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health David Zatezalo concerning this very issue. The letter spelled out the evidence proving that miners are experiencing an epidemic of black lung and PMF that is being caused, in large part, by silica exposure. The letter also gave recommendations as to how the Agency could better protect miners from respirable coal and silica dust.
“The next day, June 20, 2019, I testified before Congress about the effects of coal dust and silica exposure on the lives of America’s miners. That was almost a year and a half ago and we still have no meaningful progress toward a protective silica dust rule. This administration failed to properly protect miners from this insidious disease. It will now fall to the next administration to issue an effective silica rule.
“The current push by some in the industry for allowing respirators or other personal protective equipment to be a primary means of controlling silica dust is troubling. The law is clear: Mine operators must provide a safe, dust-controlled atmosphere for miners using engineering and ventilation methods, which are more than capable of properly reducing dust levels. We look forward to working with the new leadership at the agency to ensure that is what happens.”
On June 20, 2019, President Cecil Roberts spoke to the committee on Education and Labor about the need for action!