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Bill to Fund Miners’ Pensions Introduced

October 9, 2017

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Washington—Four members of Congress introduced legislation Oct. 3 intended to save the United Mine Workers of America’s pension plan. The American Miners Pension Act—sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Reps. David McKinley, (R-W.Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Donald Norcross (D-N.J.)—would allow the federal government to give the UMWA pension plan low-interest loans and excess funds from the Abandoned Mine Land program, in which coal companies pay fees to reclaim abandoned mines. The UMWA 1974 Pension Plan was 93% funded in 2007, the union said, but “is at risk of becoming insolvent by 2022” because of “an unprecedented wave of bankruptcies by coal producers” who contribute to it. The plan has more than 87,000 current beneficiaries, and another 20,000 coal miners have worked long enough to have vested pensions. “It’s simple fairness for America’s miners, who were promised security in our retirement years when the pension agreement was first signed in the Truman White House back in 1946,” said UMWA President Cecil Roberts. “Contributions were made by signatory operators on every ton of coal mined and later by the number of hours worked. Now it’s time to redeem that promise.” Read more

October 9, 2017

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