While the Trump administration is making moves, like replacing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan rule that was created to regulate carbon pollution from power plants, Trump’s promise to save the coal industry has yet to be a priority leaving many miner workers feeling worried about their future.
Coal miners across the country will be visiting Washington D.C. this week to demand Congress protect their pension plans no matter what happens to the coal industry. Since last October, six coal companies have declared bankruptcy and two more companies are soon to go under as well.
With hopes that Congress will pass the Miners Pension Protection Act, which will transfer federal funds into the troubled United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1974 Pension Plan, miner workers are fighting hard. This will just be a step in the right direction, but will overall be a long and hard battle as thousands of retirees across the country may lose healthcare and security in various pension and retirement plans as the industry continues to suffer. The coal miner’s union says Congress has three years to take the proper action before the issue becomes insolvent.
The current pension plan dates back to 1946 and guarantees miners will be taken care of for working a dangerous job that is associated with a lot of health issues upon later years in life.
While Congress holds some responsibility to ensure these workers get what they deserve for their futures, the responsibility can also be placed on union officials and employer representatives who mismanaged the funding.
In the 2008 recession, the fund lost $2 billion and has been acquiring several additional blows throughout the years increasing the worry from those newly retired or soon to retire.
If this issue is not figured out, by 2022 nearly 100,000 miners will lose their pensions and health care benefits.
“Coal miners, both underground and surface miners, are the hardest working people in America, and their safety and working conditions are the most dangerous in this country, with black lung, silicosis, and other breathing disorders, and from a safety standpoint, falling roofs, rocks, slips, falls, equipment mishaps, and working around beltlines, pulleys and other pinch points. We, the miners, kept our end of the deal and Westmoreland needs to keep their promise, too!” says retired miner Jim Villos.