Josh Sword, President of West Virginia AFL-CIO: “[The Build Back Better Act] would help workers, our families and the labor movement both across the country and right here in West Virginia”

Trust Fund to Help Miners with Black Lung at Risk while the Build Back Better Act is Delayed

The West Virginia AFL-CIO chapter, the United Mine Workers of America, and other labor groups are pushing Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia to support the Build Back Better Act, which would benefit miners and their families, according to a New York Times article and a Washington Post op-ed.  The bill would also replenish the funding for the Black Lung Trust Fund that expired on January 1, 2022, leaving coal miners suffering from the disease in limbo.


The New York Times: Manchin’s Choice on Build Back Better: Mine Workers or Mine Owners

  • So when the miners’ union and the West Virginia A.F.L.-C.I.O. came out last month with statements pleading for passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act — just hours after Mr. Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said he was a “no” — the Capitol took notice.

  • Most pressing was an extension through 2025 of an excise tax paid by coal mine operators and protected for years by Mr. Manchin. The levy finances a trust fund that pays about 30,000 miners coping with black lung disease and their beneficiaries a little under $700 a month. Because Build Back Better did not pass last year, the tax was cut in half as of Jan. 1, pushing the struggling fund further into debt.

  • The bill “would help workers, our families and the labor movement both across the country and right here in West Virginia,” the president of the labor group, Josh Sword, said in the statement.

The Washington Post: West Virginia’s coal miners just made Joe Manchin’s life a lot harder

  • The United Mine Workers of America backs BBB because it will help mine workers transition to a future they now see as inevitable. BBB contains tax incentives to spur manufacturing and consumption of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar, to hasten our transition to a decarbonized economy.

  • Crucially, some of those tax incentives would steer some of this renewable manufacturing to coal-producing regions, to smooth the transition for workers away from fossil-fuel toil. Miners also support BBB because it would replenish a fund that aids miners suffering from black lung disease.

  • Indeed, now that this fundamental conflict between mine workers and owners has been exposed, it should be harder for Manchin to sink BBB in the end, even under another pretext, without being perceived as operating in owners’ interests.

About Invest in America

Invest In America is a national rapid response operation advocating for robust public investment to rescue the economy from the COVID crisis and create prosperity for the future, and to fight back against fear-mongers who use deficit concerns as a scapegoat to starve American communities and businesses of resources.

The operation consists of two components: Invest in America, the charitable and public education arm, which is a fiscally sponsored project of Economic Security Project funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Economic Security Project co-chair Chris Hughes; and Invest in America Action, the advocacy and social welfare arm, which is a fiscally sponsored project of Economic Security Project Action funded by Chris Hughes and the Omidyar Network.

Learn more at InvestInAmericaNow.com and @InvestNowUSA, and InvestinAmericaProject.com.