FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 16, 2016
UMWA statement on passing of Bill Usery
[TRIANGLE, VA] UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“I was very saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, William J. “Bill” Usery. He had a long and extremely successful career as someone who could bring labor and management together to find mutual ground, even in the most difficult circumstances.
“It is not a stretch to say that Bill Usery was, in many ways, responsible for the health care benefits retired coal miners, their dependents and widows enjoy today. His work as a federally-appointed mediator in the 1989-1990 UMWA strike at Pittston Coal resulted in an agreement to end the strike, with the union succeeding in maintaining retiree health care benefits.
“In the wake of Pittston strike, then Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole established the Dole Commission, which Bill chaired. That Commission found that retired miners had a reasonable expectation of lifetime health care benefits. Based on that finding, Congress in 1992 passed the Coal Act, which continues to provide for retiree health care benefits today.
“Bill Usery didn’t care what your politics were or what your ideology was. He just wanted to get results that benefitted both labor and management, so that workers could continue to provide for their families. In times like these, the world can use more people like Bill Usery. He will be sorely missed.”