“If you’re not for protecting pensions – what could you possibly be for?”
– Cecil E. Roberts
UMWA Members from across the coalfields of the United States and Canada came together at District Conferences to celebrate the Union’s recent health care victory and discuss the International Executive Board’s Resolution to hold a Special International Convention in St. Louis, MO. on November 3-4, 2017. In all, over 3,500 UMWA Members from 207 Local Unions attended the seven Conferences that were held in four states and two provinces.
President Roberts stressed the importance of immediately refocusing the Union’s efforts from the health care fight to the battle to secure long-term funding for the 1974 Pension Plan. The Plan currently sends monthly pension checks to 87,000 retired miners or their spouses. There are an additional 20,000 individuals eligible to receive pensions who have not yet applied for those benefits.
At each Conference, President Roberts noted, “Brothers and Sisters, we have recently achieved a wonderful victory by securing the lifetime health care that was promised to coal miners in 1946. However, when this fight began, we made it very clear we were in this battle to secure both the health care and pensions for active and retired miners and their families. Thanks to your efforts, we are half way to that goal. Now it is time to move forward and complete this mission. We must prepare ourselves to concentrate on the Pension fight. We must immediately devise a comprehensive plan that affords us the greatest opportunity for success. That plan includes holding the election of Officers a year earlier, moving the regular International Convention to a year later and transferring the necessary financial resources the Union has available into the General Treasury. This will allow us to pursue the goal of securing our Pensions.”
Near the conclusion of each Conference, the Membership unanimously endorsed a motion from the floor to support the Executive Board’s Resolution and move forward to secure the pensions miners had earned. The Conference participants went on record authorizing President Roberts and the Executive Board to use every available resource the Union possesses to pursue the battles ahead.