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 for 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 in order 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.
Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)
Introduced in September of 2021 by Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-3) as H.R. 5376 the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was signed into law on August 16th, 2022. This historic legislation will lower costs for families, create good-paying jobs for workers and grow the economy. The act will lower healthcare costs by:
- Lowering prescription drug costs and extending health care coverage with the negotiation of lower drug prices for seniors on Medicare and those with disabilities.
- Enacting inflation caps for prescription drugs
- Improving Medicare prescription benefits
- Preventing a premium spike for ACA enrollees
The act will also invest in Climate, Energy, and American Manufacturing by:
- Investing tens of billions in energy investment and production tax credits
- Investing tens of billions in manufacturing tax credits to grow US manufacturing
- Investing in fossil fuel communities by expanding the 48C investment tax credit
The bill provides billions for CCS. This legislation, coupled with the groundbreaking carbon management provisions included in the bipartisan infrastructure law, could deliver an estimated 13-fold increase in the deployment of carbon management technologies and between 210 and 250 million metric tons of annual emissions reductions by 2035. Between this funding & the funding for carbon capture from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.
The IRA includes a permanent extension on the Black Lung Disability Trust excise tax which will help continue to fund Black Lung benefits by bringing the tax on coal companies back to the expired tax rate.
Click here to read more about H.R. 5376 including the bill text, summary, 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.
Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act
Soon to be reintroduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8) and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act is legislation that 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.
We are currently awaiting reintroduction in both the U.S. Senate and House. To see the former bill text of the 117Th Congress legislation click here to read text S. 2205, including the bill text, a summary, and a list of co-sponsors. Click here to read more information about H.R. 6102, including the 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.
American Energy Worker Opportunity Act
Introduced in the U.S. Senate as S. 2966 by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and five other U.S. Senators on October 7, 2021, and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Andy Levin (D-MI-9) and fourteen other Representatives as H.R. 5821, and endorsed by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the United Steelworkers (USW), Utility Workers of America (UWUA), AFL-CIO and other organizations, the American Energy Worker Opportunity Act addresses key components of the UMWA Energy Transition Initiative to keep workers whole through a true energy transition that will enhance opportunities for miners, their families and their communities. It is built around three simple goals: preserving coal jobs, creating new jobs, and preserving coal field families and communities.
The American Energy Worker Opportunity Act is a worker-driven plan for fossil-fuel workers. Congress would provide billions in investment over the span of ten years to assist workers who are laid off through no fault of their own. The energy worker opportunity program would provide a wage supplement, health care benefits, education and training funds, as well as an additional education benefit to children.
Click here to read more information about S. 2966, including the bill text, a summary, and a list of co-sponsors. Click here to read more information about H.R. 5821, including the bill text and a list of co-sponsors.
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