FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 14, 2017
UMWA retirees, spouses hit Capitol Hill to lobby for Miners Protection Act
[WASHINGTON, DC] Dozens of retired coal miners and spouses began making the rounds of congressional offices today, the first of several waves of senior citizens who will come from across the American coalfields to Washington to discuss the critical need to pass the Miners Protection Act and secure promised retirement benefits the retirees earned through decades of difficult and dangerous work energizing America.
This group of retirees hails from Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia; and will be visiting Representatives and Senators from those states, as well as thanking current co-sponsors of the legislation for their support.
“It is very important that Congress hear directly from the people who are affected,” United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “They are here to fight for the future they earned. Since 1946, the United States government has repeatedly fulfilled its moral commitment to help retired coal miners and widows, all we are asking is that it do so once more.”
The legislation is S. 175 sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); and H.R. 179, sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.). S. 175 currently has 21 co-sponsors from both parties, and H.R. 179 currently has 11 bi-partisan co-sponsors.
The UMWA has been working with legislators from both parties to pass this legislation for four years, in the wake of a series of bankruptcies in the coal industry that has eliminated employer-paid retiree health care for some 26,000 retirees and put the pension plan for more than 89,000 retirees in a critical and declining status.
Last December, Congress passed a four-month extension of health care benefits in the Continuing Resolution that funded the government through April 28. The UMWA is seeking a permanent solution to the retiree health care issue as well as shoring up the pension plan by using funds in an existing annual appropriation under the Coal Act.