Fighting for you in Washington, D.C.
The UMWA is engaged in the nation’s capital on behalf of our members, their families, and their communities. We’re fighting to keep health care and pension benefits for retired UMWA members in the coal industry secure; for safe, secure jobs for all our members; for a sensible energy policy that recognizes the central role coal can and will continue to play in power generation for decades to come; for quality health care for all Americans and especially retirees; for the protection of Social Security and Medicare for current and future retirees; and strong protections for workers’ rights on the job.
Here are some of the things we are working on in Washington:
Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize
Introduced on February 28, 2023, as H.R. 20 in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) and S. 567 in the U.S. Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), this critical piece of legislation would finally put teeth back into the National Labor Relations Act with respect to organizing workers.
Under the bill, once workers vote to form a union, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would be authorized to order that the employer commence bargaining a first contract. These orders would be enforced in district courts to ensure swift justice for the workers of the bargaining unit or job site.
The bill would ensure that employees are not deprived of their right to form a union because their employer hides behind a subcontractor or other intermediary, or deliberately misclassifies them as supervisors or independent contractors.
The bill also recognizes that employees need the freedom to picket or withhold their labor to push for changes and improvements at the workplace. The PRO Act protects employees’ right to strike by preventing employers from hiring replacement workers. It also allows unrepresented employees to engage in collective action or class action lawsuits to enforce basic workplace rights, rather than being forced to arbitrate such claims alone.
Finally, the PRO Act would eliminate state right-to-work laws. These laws have been promoted by a network of billionaires and special interest groups to give more power to corporations at the expense of everyday workers, and have had the effect of lowering wages and eroding pensions and health care coverage in states where they have been adopted.
Click here to read more information about H.R. 20, including the bill text, and a list of co-sponsors. Click here to read more information about S. 567, including the bill text, a summary, and a list of co-sponsors.
Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act
Introduced in the U.S. Senate on November 15, 2023, by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8) and the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) on November 21, 2023, this legislation would reform the program that provides benefits to coal miners suffering from black lung disease.
The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act aims to level the playing field for miners and their spouses seeking benefits under the Black Lung Program that is administered by the Department of Labor. Specifically, the Act assists claimants by:
- Requiring full disclosure of medical information related to a claim, whether or not such information is entered as evidence;
- Enabling more miners to get legal assistance
- Allowing miners or their survivors to reopen their cases if they had been denied because of medical interpretations that have subsequently been discredited; and
- Adjusting black lung benefits to increase the cost of living.
To read the bill text of S. 3304, the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act click here as well as a summary and a list of co-sponsors. Click here to read more information about H.R. 6461, including the bill text and a list of co-sponsors.
Relief for Survivors of Miners Act
Introduced in the U.S. Senate on July 20, 2023, by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Morgan McGarvey (KY-3) and Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-8) on December 13, 2023, this piece of legislation seeks to amend the Black Lung Benefits Act to ease the process for survivors of miners whose deaths were due to pneumoconiosis.
- Re-establishes a pre-1981 “rebuttable presumption” that a miner who died from respiratory-related conditions had died due to black lung if the miner was previously disabled due to black lung.
- Improves legal representation by paying attorney’s fees and medical expenses incurred during the claim process.
- Requests a Government Accountability Office report on the financial impact of these payments and other ways to improve the claims process and benefits for survivors.
“The UMWA has been at the forefront of battling black lung disease for more than fifty years,” said Cecil E. Roberts, International President of the United Mine Workers of America. “Enacted by Congress in 1969 as part of the Federal Mine Health and Safety Act, the black lung benefits system has been helpful to thousands of miners and their families. But more needs to be done. The cost of living has dramatically increased since 1969, miners are contracting the disease at younger ages and there are more severe forms of the disease. Senator Warner and Congressman McGarvey’s, ‘Relief for Survivors of Miners Act’ would ease burdens families of deceased miners face claiming black lung benefits so these families receive the benefits they deserve.”
Click here to read more information about S. 2416, including the bill text and a list of co-sponsors. Click here to read more information about H.R. 6761, including bill text and a list of co-sponsors.
Striking and Locked Out Workers Healthcare Protection Act
Introduced on March 8, 2023 in the U.S. Senate as S. 710 by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA) and in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 1447 by Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-PA-17) and Susan Wild ( D-PA-7), this piece of legislation aims to prohibit an employer from terminating the coverage of an employee under a group health plan while the employer is engaged in a lock-out or while the employee is engaged in a lawful strike.
The bill would create a separate unfair labor practice category for employers that cut or alter workers’ health insurance while employees are on strike or locked out, and violators would be subject to increasing levels of civil penalties.
President Roberts commented on the legislation saying, “We thank Senators Brown and Casey as well as Representatives Deluzio and Wild for introducing the ‘Striking and Locked Out Workers Healthcare Protection Act.’ Warrior Met strikers had their healthcare coverage cut off when they went on strike on April 1, 2021. The UMWA paid the health care coverage for those members for 23 months since the strike began. We strongly support this legislation and urge Congress to pass it.”
Click here to read more information about S. 710, including the bill text and a list of co-sponsors. Click here to read more information about H.R. 1447, including bill text and a list of co-sponsors.
No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act
Introduced in the U.S. Senate as S. 737 by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) on March 9, 2023, this piece of legislation will deny employers a tax deduction for any expenditures incurred for attempting to influence their employees with respect to labor organizations or labor organization activities, such as elections, labor disputes, and collective actions. The bill requires employers to report on their attempts to influence their employees with respect to labor organizations and their activities.
Click here to read more information about S. 737, including the bill text and a list of co-sponsors.
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