Editorial: Promised Pensions

Time is of the essence when it comes to congressional action to protect the hard-earned pensions and benefits of thousands of retired coal miners.

Legislation is still pending in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives that would protect the health care and benefits of retired coal miners now in jeopardy. Without a change to current law, 12,500 of the country’s retired coal miners will lose their health care beginning on Dec. 31 of this year. Another 6,500 retired miners could lose their benefits next year without congressional action.

Area lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., all renewed their pleas this week for quick congressional action on their respective bills. In the U.S. Senate, Manchin and Capito are backing the bipartisan Miners Protection Act. In the House, Jenkins has co-sponsored the Coal Healthcare and Pensions Protection Act.

“Time is running out to do the right thing by our miners and their families,” Jenkins said last Thursday. “We have a solution – the Coal Healthcare and Pensions Protection Act – legislation I am a proud cosponsor of. It’s a bipartisan bill, and a similar bill is pending in the Senate ...”

According to the lawmakers, the retired miners are facing financial uncertainty because the United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan is severely underfunded. The Miners Protection Act would transfer money from the Abandoned Mine Land fund and make certain retirees eligible who lose health care following the insolvency of his or her employer.

Manchin, Capito and Jenkins are correct. Congress needs to act quickly to ensure that these benefits are not lost. 

These are the same brave men and women who dedicated their lives to helping power our nation. Their hard work has kept America strong over the years, and we believe these coal miners are now more than ever deserving of their promised benefits.

Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph