EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSMINE BENEFITS LEGISLATION
from Eyewitness News Online
Rockefeller Plans To Introduce Legislation On Miners' Benefits
Reported by: Heath Harrison
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Feb. 23, 2013 5:32 PM EST
Beckley, Raleigh County , West Virginia
U.S. Jay Rockefeller plans to introduce legislation aimed to protect pension and lifetime health benefits for retired coal miners and their families, according to a news release from his office.
Rockefeller is set to introduce the Coalfield Accountability and Retired Employee Act in the Senate.
The West Virginia Democrat met Friday with a group of coal retirees at the Raleigh County Public Library in Beckley to discuss the preservation of miners’ benefits.
“In West Virginia, a promise made is a promise kept. And when it comes to our coal miners – who put their lives, limbs and lungs on the line under the promise of a secure future for them and their families – there should never be any backing away from that pledge,” Rockefeller said.
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall also attended the meeting.
“If nothing is done, we are looking at a situation where people are going to have to make cruel choices,” Roberts said. “Will they eat or get their medicines? Will they pay the mortgage or get the surgery they need? This is literally a matter of life and death for thousands of people in West Virginia and throughout the nation’s coalfields.”
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts and nine other leaders were arrested while protesting outside the St. Louis headquarters of Peabody Energy on Jan. 29.
Peabody is one of the companies the union holds responsible for Patriot Coal's bankruptcy.
That bankruptcy jeopardizes pension and health care benefits for some 20,000 people, mostly in West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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