National Consumers League

NCL calls on Congress to pass miner pension bill


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December 9, 2016

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League, the nation's pioneering consumers' and workers' rights advocacy organization, today urged the Senate to pass the Miners Protection Act, a bipartisan bill backed by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Shelley Capito (R-WV), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), that would transfer excess money from the Abandoned Mine Land fund—a coal mine clean-up program—to the 1974 United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Pension Plan.

The UMWA plan has a special guarantee from the federal government—secured in 1946 with then-President Harry Truman’s administration, which helps negotiate a contract with mine workers. But this bill will close a gap in benefits that was caused by a number of factors, including the recession of 2008.

The following quote can be attributed to NCL's Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“Coal miners under this federal agreement risk their health and safety, because the nation needs energy. In exchange, they were promised health insurance and pension benefits. The U.S. must not renege on that promise and should pass this bill. The Senate majority leader must give the green light. So far he has been unwilling to do so. We hope this changes because these patriotic coal miners worked hard for their country and have earned these benefits.“

"The plan has too few assets, too few employers, and too few union workers now paying in. If Congress fails to act, thousands of retired miners would lose their health care this year and the entire plan could fail as early as next year. Supporters of the bill did secure a promise that the miners’ legislation would get a vote in the Senate Finance Committee. We urge all members of that Committee and the full Senate to support the Miners Protection Act."

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.