Millions of Pensions in Jeopardy without Vote on Miner's Protection Act
Washington, D.C. (April 5, 2017) — Our nation's miners will lose their healthcare and pensions on April 30th if Congress fails to take a simple action to re-purpose funds that already exist for these benefits.
The safety net for all of multi-employer pension plans is in jeopardy if the Miner's pensions are allowed to default.
Mine Workers dug the coal that lit our cities, warmed our homes, forged the steel that won our wars. Almost all of us were born in hospitals that were warm and lit because miners risked their lives underground.
The United Mine Workers of America built our labor movement. They bled in literal battle with company thugs. They stood up to the US government over and over again. Their treasury funded the creation of the auto workers, steel workers and CWA. They used their power to get public employees bargaining rights. There would be no Railway Labor Act, no NMB, without the Mineworkers. We owe them.
Coal mining kills--quickly and slowly. When men and women die underground, they leave families behind, but no one comes out unscathed. Black lung, pneumonia, cancer, emphysema. Paying that debt is what miners' health and pensions are about.
Since 1946 our country promised them healthcare and pensions. The Coal Act of 1992 reaffirmed this commitment. Although some coal mining companies have gone out of business, mine workers are eligible for the existing benefits established under this act.
But in order to keep this protection in place, Congress must act to re-purpose the funds through a current bill, the Miners Protection Act, S. 175 and H.R. 179. Without it, Miners will lose healthcare and their pensions will default to the PBGC placing all multi-employer pension plans for millions of workers in all industries in jeopardy.
This is not a bailout. It is a repurpose of funds that exist. There are more than 60 Senators who support the bill and bi-partisan majority support exists in the House too. But Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Ryan have refused to schedule a vote.
Some issues are complicated. This is not. In as little as five minutes of time Congress can vote to keep its promise. That is all that is needed to repay the debt we owe to the Mine Workers and their families.
Call your Senators and Representative. Tell them:
"I am a constituent and I expect Congress to keep America's promise to our Mine Workers. Support the Miners Protection Act and tell the leadership to schedule a vote today!"
Join with the 13 million members of the AFL-CIO to demand a vote on the Miners Protection Act now.