From Bill Finn: Action Alert! Please act on this request

Kentucky Building Trades Affiliates,

Please take action on this request to send a letter to Senator McConnell in support of the United Mine Workers of America. The pensions and health care of the UMWA members are at risk and your help is needed to send the attached message to Senator McConnell. Please send to: [email protected]

Many other Multi-Employer Pension Funds are at risk and Congress must act to protect our Kentucky workers. Please take a few minutes to include your name and address on the letter and e-mail to Sen. McConnell.

A UMWA Representative sent me the following:

Thanks for helping us by having your members write letters to McConnell and other Kentucky members of Congress on behalf of UMWA pensioners. The new bill that Senator McConnell just introduced with Senator Manchin and Senator Capito is S. 2788, the Bipartisan American Miners Act.

Thank you,

Bill Finn

State Director

Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council

Dear Senator McConnell,

  I am writing to ask that you support passage of S. 2788, the Bipartisan American Miners Act, H.R. 934, the Health Care for Miners Act, and H.R. 935, the Miners Pension Protection Act. 

It is important that these bills are passed immediately.  Some 1,200 retired coal miners from two companies that went bankrupt in 2018, Mission and Westmoreland Coal, will lose their health care at the end of this year if H.R. 934 is not passed.  I know you can imagine the tremendous pressure and uncertainty these senior citizens are facing at this point. Congress must act to provide relief.

Murray Energy, the last major contributing employer to the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 29, 2019.  This set in motion the likelihood that another 13,000 retirees will be at risk of losing their retiree health care and the likelihood of significant cuts to retirees’ pensions within a matter of months if Congress does not act now. 

I am asking that you support passage of these bills for my community and the tens of thousands of retirees across the United States who are at risk of losing their retiree health care and pensions if Congress does not act now.

Sincerely,

 

Keeping America’s Promise to our Retired Coal Miners and Widows

WHEREAS, in 1946, faced with the prospect of a long strike that could hamper post-war economic recovery, President Harry Truman issued an Executive Order directing the Secretary of the Interior to take possession of all bituminous coal mines in the United States and to negotiate with the United Mine Workers of America "appropriate changes in the terms and conditions of employment;" and  

WHEREAS, after a week of negotiations, the historic Krug-Lewis agreement was announced and signed in the White House with Truman as a witness; and

WHEREAS, the agreement created a welfare and retirement fund that guaranteed lifetime payments to miners and their dependents and survivors in cases of sickness, permanent disability, death or retirement; and

WHEREAS, the agreement also created a separate medical and hospital fund; and

WHEREAS, in 1947, the government returned control of the mines back to their owners and a new collective bargaining agreement was reached with the companies that guaranteed retirement benefits to miners and their dependents and survivors for life; and

WHEREAS, for the next 70 years miners bargained for money to be dedicated to their health care in retirement, because they knew when they retired they would be sicker than the average senior citizen, with more nagging injuries and a greater risk of black lung or some other cardio-pulmonary disease; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has repeatedly confirmed its role in guaranteeing retirement benefits for coal miners, and

WHEREAS, in 1992 Congress passed and President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Coal Act, which established an industry-funded mechanism for paying for the health care of retirees whose companies had gone out of business, and

WHEREAS, in 2006, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law legislation amended the Coal Act to expand the financial resources available to the Fund; and

WHEREAS, a depression reigns in America’s coalfields today, with tens of thousands of coal mining jobs eliminated, and

WHEREAS, at least 60 coal companies have filed for bankruptcy since 2012 and received approval from bankruptcy courts to shed their retiree obligations; and

WHEREAS, like many other multiemployer pension funds, the UMWA 1974 Pension Fund lost a significant portion of its value in the 2008-09 recession and due to the devastation of the coal industry will not receive enough contributions from the employers to make up the shortfall, leading the Fund to become insolvent by 2022 at the latest; and

WHEREAS, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has introduced S. 27, the American Miners Acts and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) has introduced S. 671, the Miners Pension Protection Act, co-sponsored by Republicans and Democrats that would amend the Coal Act to repurpose the balance of an existing appropriation to provide funding to shore up the UMWA Pension Plan; and

WHERAS, Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) has introduced the Miners Pension Protection Act in the House as H.R. 935, co-sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats; and

WHEREAS, Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) has introduced H.R. 934, the Health Benefits for Miners Act, co-sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, which allow retirees from recently bankrupt companies to get health care coverage from the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds; and

WHEREAS, America’s coal miners have sacrificed much for our nation, with more than 105,000 killed on the job in the last century and more than 100,000 having died from coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, or Black Lung, and

WHEREAS, knowing those risks, miners have continued to go to work every day to provide for their families, build a secure future for themselves and produce the fuel that has allowed America to become the most powerful nation on earth; therefore be it

RESOLVED that America has an obligation to our retired coal miners for the sacrifices they have made for our nation, and be it further

RESOLVED that the Kentucky AFL-CIO be on record as supporting S. 27, S. 671, H.R. 934 and H.R. 935 in Congress and urges Kentucky’s entire Congressional delegation to become co-sponsors of said legislation and work for its passage, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Kentucky AFL-CIO send a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), asking that, as the senior Senator from Kentucky, he pay personal attention to this looming crisis for more than 10,000 retired Kentucky coal miners, their families and their communities, and that before the end of this year he use his position of power in the Congress to prevent the loss of these hard-earned benefits.