UMWA Urges Action to Pass Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

November 22, 2022

 

UMWA Urges Action to Pass Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act

 

[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issues the following statement today.

 

I want to thank the House Education and Labor Committee, specifically Chairman Scott, for advancing the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act in March of 2022. Since then, however, little movement has been made to ensure that miners burdened with black lung or miner’s pneumoconiosis have access to relevant workers’ compensation and other benefits, including aid in finding legal representation and obtaining necessary medical evidence.

 

One hundred thousand coal miners in the last century have died a painful death from Black Lung disease due to their exposure to respirable dust in their workplace. And furthermore, we are now seeing a significant rise in black lung cases, especially among younger miners, largely caused by increased silica dust in the mine atmosphere.

 

The current financial stipend received through Black Lung Disability benefits only covers a fraction of a family’s monthly necessities and today, under inflation, it covers even less. This Act develops a new system for determining benefit levels that will make annual adjustments based on cost-of-living.

 

We urge swift action by Congress to pass H.R. 6102 and S. 4511, the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act, so that miners, who have dedicated their lives working in the mines, receive the black lung benefits they deserve.

Biden comments about shutting down all coal-fired power “disheartening,” UMWA says

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NOVEMBER 5, 2022

 

Biden comments about shutting down all coal-fired power “disheartening,” UMWA says

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] Reacting to comments President Biden made last night that, “we’re going to be shutting (coal) plants down all across America,” United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“The UMWA could not disagree more with President Biden’s comments to a California audience about shutting down coal-fired power, which would have the effect of throwing thousands more coal miners out of work. This harkens back to the days of previous administrations when comments like these were all too common and were made without any reference to what the effect on workers, their families, and their communities would be.

“We understand that an energy transition is underway, and we have been working to provide new opportunities for dislocated miners now and into the future. We will continue to do that.  But we have also made it clear for years that we will fight tooth and nail to preserve every UMWA coal miner’s job that exists today. Everyone can be sure we will continue to do that as well.

“We have long fought for the development of technology to enable utilities to use coal in a carbon-neutral way to generate electricity, not just because it will preserve coal-related jobs here in America but also because it is the only way to truly reduce global emissions. These comments are disheartening because they make it seem that the Biden Administration has apparently abandoned that effort.

“It’s easy to talk about ending an industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Appalachia and the Midwest, but the reality of such an action is harsh. Now is not the time to be talking about eliminating high-paying jobs anywhere in America, especially those that also provide a tax base for communities, fund healthcare facilities, and small businesses serving millions of people.

“I invite the President to come to West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, southwest Virginia or eastern Kentucky to see for himself the damage that has already been done to coal-reliant families and communities. Perhaps then we can all have a clear understanding of the importance of the jobs that are left.”

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UMWA’s Response to Turkey coal mine explosion, killing 41

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OCTOBER 15, 2022

UMWA’s Response to Turkey coal mine explosion, killing 41

[TRIANGLE, VA] In the aftermath of the terrible explosion that killed 41 miners in Northern Turkey, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“The prayers of the entire UMWA membership are with the families of the 41 miners who lost their lives this week in Turkey. It appears that Turkey’s mine safety laws were ignored by company officials, which inevitably leads to lives lost and the destruction of families.

“This preventable disaster not only demonstrates the need for strong mine safety laws worldwide but is also proof that when a company is not held accountable, it will always put profit over the lives of workers. Rest In Peace, Brothers.”

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UMWA statement on nominations to Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

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OCTOBER 3, 2022

UMWA statement on nominations to Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

[TRIANGLE, VA.] Commenting on the confirmations of Mary Lu Jordan and T.J. Baker to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“I congratulate Mary Lu Jordan and T.J. Baker on their confirmations to serve on this critically important commission, and I thank Senate leadership for moving their nominations forward. However, the work to protect miners’ health and safety is not finished.

“There still is not a full complement of Commissioners serving on this board, and deadlocks between Democratic and Republican appointees on cases critical to miners’ safety are likely to become all too common. I urge the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to act as soon as possible to move the nomination of Moshe Marvit to the full Senate and for his confirmation by that body, before the end of the year. We must make this a fully-functional Commission, and soon.”

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UMWA mourns passing of Jim Bowen

[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“Our friend and Brother Jim Bowen passed away peacefully early this morning, and we are heartbroken. His was a tremendous voice on behalf of working people throughout West Virginia, our nation and the world. Our hearts are with his family in this difficult time,

“From his time as a leader in the United Steelworkers, facing down hostile employers in the steel and aluminum industries; to his tenure as President of the West Virginia AFL-CIO; to his work in the West Virginia legislature on behalf of working people; and to his strong support of UMWA retirees and widows as we fought for their health care and pensions, Jim Bowen never backed away from a fight. He gave voice to the idea that workers in struggle can always hold out ‘One Day Longer’ than their opponents.

“Jim was my friend, and a friend to many in West Virginia and across the country. He was an honorary member of the UMWA, and we were proud to call him Brother. Although this is a difficult moment, we hold dear the memories of his friendship and solidarity which will guide us through our grief.”

UMWA supports Energy Independence and Security Act, calls for inclusion in CR

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SEPTEMBER 22, 2022

UMWA supports Energy Independence and Security Act, calls for inclusion in CR

[TRIANGLE, VA] Commenting on the introduction of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 by Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“Americans have seen historic Congressional actions over the past year that have created a potential pathway to a more secure and cleaner future for all of us. But that pathway can soon become just a memory if Congress fails to enact all the tools needed to make it a reality. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) is a critical tool that must be made law, and right away.

“Billions of dollars that were included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act will become stranded without passage of the EISA. Hundreds of thousands of potential jobs – which American workers were told just a few weeks ago would be coming soon – are at risk.

“Let’s be clear: the so-called “green energy” future in America cannot happen without more domestic mining, more development of critical infrastructure, more manufacturing. We cannot continue to depend on China or other unreliable nations to provide the materials needed to create that future.

“It must be done responsibly and with respect for the environment, which this legislation ensures. It also must be done much faster than is now possible, or we will find ourselves putting even more workers in the unemployment line while falling behind in meeting our energy and emissions goals.

“The time for action is now. The Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government is coming before Congress in the next few days. The EISA should be part of it, enabling us to start right away building our nation’s future.”

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NLRB revises damages calculations in Warrior Met strike

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SEPTEMBER 19, 2022

NLRB revises damages calculations in Warrior Met strike

[TRIANGLE, VA.] Commenting on a revised damages calculation issued by Region 10 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that conforms to the initial amount the Region had indicated would be assessed, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“We appreciate that NLRB Region 10 took another look at the damages it had initially assessed and recognized that the number should be in line with what Region 10 had initially indicated would be charged. This recalculation, which comes to about $435,000 plus interest, conforms to the number we had been told we would be charged.

“We are ready to pay that amount, put this behind us and negotiate a fair and reasonable contract with Warrior Met Coal that will settle this strike. Let’s get this done.”

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Warrior Met demands to fire 40 strikers without due process

[MCCALLA, AL] Responding to a demand by Warrior Met Coal, Inc. that it would not allow 40 striking United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members to return to work, UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“We received on Monday a letter from Warrior Met that listed the names of 40 individuals that the company says it will not allow to return to work due to unspecified reasons. Warrior Met has been threatening to do this for months. It is demanding that the UMWA cede its legal responsibility to fairly represent those members and is attempting to prevent us from doing so.

“We have asked Warrior Met to provide us with any specifics it may have that would provide some clarity regarding its position. We are pursuing all legal avenues available to us on behalf of each of these individuals, including an unfair labor practice charge filed today.

“I would note that the list includes the majority of leaders in every UMWA local union that is on strike. It also includes a disproportionate number of African-American members. Warrior Met has callously prolonged this strike for months, needlessly punishing these strikers, their families and the Alabama communities where they live. Warrior Met now wants to wipe out the union’s local leadership and attack our union’s diversity.

“Perhaps the Wall Street, ‘greed is good’ mentality of Warrior Met upper management has deluded them into believing this action will intimidate the membership into submission. That would be a serious miscalculation.”

UMWA Statement on Trapped Mexican Miners

[TRIANGLE, VA.] With rescue efforts ongoing to reach ten miners trapped underground by water near Sabinas, Coahuila, Mexico, United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“The prayers of the entire UMWA are with the trapped miners and the efforts of the rescuers struggling to reach them. While the details of what caused this emergency remain unclear, it serves as a reminder that danger is always mere seconds away in a mine and constant vigilance on safety issues is job number one. The most precious thing to come out of a mine is always the miner.

“The UMWA stands ready to provide any assistance that may be needed to help locate and bring these miners safely to the surface.”

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NLRB demand for UMWA to pay Warrior Met Coal strike costs “outrageous,” threatens American workers’ right to strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 3, 2022

[TRIANGLE, VA.] The United Mine Workers of America today made it clear that it will vigorously challenge an outrageous assessment of damages made by the National Labor Relations Board Region 10 regarding the UMWA’s 16-month strike against Warrior Met Coal in Alabama.

“This is a slap in the face not just to the workers who are fighting for better jobs at Warrior Met Coal, but to every worker who stands up to their boss anywhere in America,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “There are charges for security, cameras, capital expenditures, buses for transporting scabs across picket lines, and the cost of lost production.

“What is the purpose of a strike if not to impact the operations of the employer, including production,” Roberts asked. “Is it now the policy of the federal government that unions be required to pay a company’s losses as a consequence of their members exercising their rights as working people? This is outrageous and effectively negates workers’ right to strike. It cannot stand.”

The union entered into a settlement agreement in June with NLRB Region 10 regarding charges the company had made about picket line activity in order to save striking members and families from days of hostile questioning by company lawyers. On July 22, the NLRB sent the union a detailed list of damages totaling $13.3 million dollars, more than 33 times the estimated amount NLRB lawyers had initially indicated would be assessed.

Warrior Met has reported millions of dollars in costs it has incurred over the course of the strike. “It appears that Warrior Met wants us to reimburse it for those costs, including costs it incurred before the strike even began,” Roberts said. “What’s extremely troubling here is that the NLRB appears to have taken up the company’s cause without a second thought.

“I want to be clear: Warrior Met Coal instigated this strike and has brutally extended it through its sustained unwillingness to reach a fair and reasonable agreement at the bargaining table,” Roberts said. “We have no intention of paying its costs for doing so. The right to strike in America must be preserved. We will fight this at every level, in every court. We will spend every penny of our resources rather than give in to something like this from the NLRB, Warrior Met or any other entity.”

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