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Congress Likely to OK Aid for Miners’ Pensions

December 21, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

WASHINGTON—A bill to shore up coal miners’ pensions has been included in the budget deal to keep the federal government operating beyond Dec. 20, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced Dec. 16. United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts called the inclusion of the American Miners Act “a tremendous victory for tens of thousands of retired miners, their families, and their communities.” The legislation, sponsored by Manchin, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), would use excess money from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Fund to aid the UMWA 1974 Fund. It would save the pensions of 92,000 miners and ensure lifetime health-care benefits for the 13,000 miners who are facing a complete cutoff. The UMWA fund’s descent toward insolvency accelerated over the last two years as several coal companies declared bankruptcy, most recently Murray Energy, which is scheming to get out of its contractual pension and benefit obligations. “We will continue our efforts to ensure that this language stays in the legislation throughout the process because there are still those who oppose allowing retirees to live out their days with the measure of comfort and dignity that they have earned,” Roberts said. Read more

December 21, 2019

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