UMWA statement on filing of Miners Pension Protection Act

MAY 11, 2016
UMWA statement on filing of Miners Pension Protection Act

[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“The introduction today of the Miners Pension Protection Act is the next step needed to completely fulfill the promise of retirement security for thousands of retired coal miners and their widows. These retirees did everything our nation asked of them, putting their lives and their health on the line every day to produce the fuel that powered America. Now, in their hour of need, I very much appreciate this legislation and the support it demonstrates.
“I sincerely thank Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va), who introduced this legislation today, and the 20 Senators who are co-sponsoring this bill, including Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.), Rob Portman (R-Oh.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). Their continued strong support of these retirees is inspirational.
“There are those who say we should abandon these retirees, letting the promises they earned go unfulfilled, allowing their pensions to be cut and condemning them to a life of poverty in their senior years. But going down that path would not only be cruel, it will not solve anything. Indeed, it will cause the collapse of the government pension backstop, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, leading to a far greater cost to the government than it would cost to fix this problem now.
“These are not rich pensions. The average monthly pension check is $586 dollars. Many thousands receive checks that are under $400 per month. That may not sound like a lot in Washington, DC, but it is the difference between buying food or paying the electric bill for these retirees and widows, who live in every state in America.
“There has already been congressional action with respect to the language incorporated in this legislation. A strong bi-partisan majority of the Senate Finance Committee last September voted 18-8 to pass the Miners Protection Act, which included the exact same pension language as is in the Miners Pension Protection Act. If we are to solve this problem without causing further anguish and pain among these most vulnerable of our citizens, Congress needs build on the Finance Committee’s support and act swiftly.”