Introduced Version House Resolution 13 History

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Key: Green = existing Code. Red = new code to be enacted


(By Delegates Caputo, Ferro, Ward, Paynter, Maynard, Lane, Sponaugle, Miley, Pethtel, Hornbuckle, Thompson, Ambler, Anderson, Arvon, Atkinson, Baldwin, Barrett, Bates, Blair, Boggs, Brewer, Byrd, Canestraro, Capito, Diserio, Eldridge, E. Evans, Fast, Fleischauer, Fluharty, Hamilton, Hartman, Hicks, Higginbotham, Hill, Iaquinta, Isner, Kelly, Longstreth, Love, Lovejoy, Lynch, Marcum, R. Miller, Moye, Phillips, Pushkin, Pyles, Robinson, Rodighiero, Rowe, Sobonya, Storch, Sypolt, Walters, Williams and Zatezalo)

[Introduced March 17, 2017]


Urging the United States Congress to keep America’s promise to our retired coal miners and widows and to pass the Miners Protection Act as soon as possible and provide the full measure of benefits these retirees were promised and have earned.

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." After a week of negotiations, the historic Krug-Lewis agreement was announced and signed in the White House with Truman as a witness.  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 the agreement also created a separate medical and hospital fund.  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.  For the next seventy 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. The federal government has repeatedly confirmed its role in guaranteeing retirement benefits for coal miners.  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.  In 2006, Congress and President George W. Bush 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 jobs eliminated.  Multiple companies have filed for bankruptcy, and received approval from bankruptcy courts to shed their retiree obligations, leaving more than 26,000 retirees confronting the loss of their health care benefits.  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 likely become insolvent by 2022.  On December 9, 2016, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (C.R.) to continue funding for federal programs and services until April 28, 2017, including a provision providing $45 million for continued health care benefits for these retirees and their families until April 30, 2017.  Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) have introduced legislation, SR. 175, the Miners Protection Act, co-sponsored by Republicans and Democrats that would amend the Coal Act to allow retirees from recently bankrupt companies to get health care coverage from the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds and would repurpose the balance of an existing appropriation to provide funding to shore up the Pension Plan.  Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) has introduced the Miners Protection Act in the House as H.R. 179, co-sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats; 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.  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. America has an obligation to our retired coal miners for the sacrifices they have made for our nation; therefore, be it

Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the United States Congress is urged to keep America’s promise to our retired coal miners and widows and to pass the Miners Protection Act as soon as possible and provide the full measure of benefits these retirees were promised and have earned; and, be it.

Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates forward a certified copy of this Resolution to the members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

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