EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSBipartisan Legislation Aimed Protecting Patriot Coal Retirees
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Heath Harrison
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Aug. 3, 2013 5:07 PM EDT
Updated: Aug. 3, 2013 5:38 PM EDT
A bipartisan group of U.S. House members sponsored legislation in Congress this week to protect the health care provisions and pension impacted by the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal.
West Virginia’s entire delegation stood united behind the legislation. U.S. Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., were among the bill’s 14 sponsors. McKinley and Capito introduced the bill.
“The goals of this legislation, to ensure that our coalminers can access the benefits they were promised, are similar to those of the CARE Act which I introduced earlier this year and I am happy to lend my support to this bill as well,” Rahall said in a news release.
Capito said she was proud of her colleagues for supporting of the bill.
“We have worked diligently together to craft legislation that addresses the most pressing issues retirees are facing as a result of Patriot Coal Company’s bankruptcy,” she said. “These hardworking coal miners have dedicated their lives to providing electricity to the Mountain State and building its economy, and we cannot let them down.”
McKinley said his office had been consulting with miners on the issue.
“Over the past two and a half years, my staff and I have been working with United Mine Workers of America officials, miners, and retirees in an effort to protect healthcare and pension benefits for our miners,” McKinley said. “After hearing the stories of what these men and their families face if they lose their benefits, it was clear that we had to find a solution.”
UMWA President Cecil Roberts said the legislation would provide significant help to the retired miners.
“The Coal Healthcare and Pensions Protection Act of 2013 will also provide security for the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan, which serves nearly 100,000 pensioners,” Roberts said in a news release. “I want to thank Reps. McKinley and Capito for introducing this bill, and for their support of the retired miners, their spouses or widows, who through no fault of their own, currently face a loss of the health care they were promised and earned through lifetimes of service in America's mines.
Roberts also praised members of the Senate, including U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Joe Manchin, D- W.Va., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for their work on the issue.
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