ICYMI: COAL MINERS’ UNION URGES MANCHIN TO PASS THE BUILD BACK BETTER ACT

ICYMI: COAL MINERS’ UNION URGES MANCHIN TO PASS THE BUILD BACK BETTER ACT

“We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.” — United Mine Workers of America  

“…if he don’t back this [Build Back Better] bill, then we’ll really be hurtin’.” — W.V. President of National Black Lung Association

POLLING63% of Voters — Including 64% of Independents — Support the Build Back Better Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Mine Workers of America issued a statement urging West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to support the Build Back Better Act, arguing that the bill would have a “meaningful impact” on coal miners in the state. The Build Back Better Act’s assistance for miners includes the extension of the Black Lung Trust Fund, which could be at risk of insolvency, putting tens of thousands of coal miners with the disease at risk if the Build Back Better Act is not passed.

KEY POINTS:

  • The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), which represents West Virginia coal miners, urged Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday to revisit his opposition to President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

  • The labor union noted that the bill includes an extension of a fund that provides benefits to coal miners suffering from black lung disease, which expires at the end of the year. The UMWA also touted tax incentives that encourage manufacturers to build facilities in coalfields that would employ thousands of miners who lost their jobs.

  • “For those and other reasons, we are disappointed that the bill will not pass,” Cecil Roberts, the union’s president, said in a statement. “We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.”

Read the full article here.

Here’s What People Are Saying About the Build Back Better Act’s Help for Sick Coal Miners:

The New Republic: Does Joe Manchin Know That Build Back Better Would Extend Vital Aid for Sick Coal Miners?

Tucked away in the version of the Build Back Better Act passed by the House—Section 138502, to be precise—there is a small paragraph extending an excise tax that funds a trust providing benefits to certain coal miners with black lung disease. The current rate for the tax, the primary revenue source for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, is set to expire at the end of the year; the Build Back Better Act includes an extension through the end of 2025.

[…] The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund provides benefits for coal miners who are disabled by black lung disease, or their surviving dependents, for instances in which those miners’ employers have gone bankrupt, or when no mining company can be identified as responsible for their disease.

In 2019, black lung benefits were distributed to roughly 25,700 people. In 2020, over $162 million in benefits was distributed nationally from the fund, and over $40 million of that to families in West Virginia, according to the Department of Labor.

Charleston Gazette-Mail: “We need this so bad”: Build Back Better backers say bill would protect WV’s most vulnerable as Manchin resists

The Build Back Better bill includes a four-year extension of the excise tax on coal production that funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which pays benefits to miners disabled by the disease as well as their eligible survivors and dependents when no responsible coal operator is identified or when the liable operator does not pay.

[…] Hairston knows that Manchin and four other Democratic senators reintroduced a bill in September that would extend the excise tax for 10 years. 

But there’s been greater legislative momentum behind the four-year extension in the Build Back Better bill, so Hairston wants Manchin to finally join that momentum instead of blocking it.

“They ain’t even thinkin’ about doing the 10 years,” Hairston said. “So if he don’t back this [Build Back Better] bill, then we’ll really be hurtin’.”

National Journal: Coal industry set for black-lung tax relief

A tax on coal producers that provides revenue for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is set to be reduced by half at the end of the year.

 “One of the sad realities in Southwest Virginia is the number of younger and younger miners who are showing up with silicosis and black lung because of the kind of coal that they are mining there,” Sen. Tim Kaine told National Journal.

The Washington Post: Manchin’s opposition to Build Back Better bill undercuts Biden’s climate agenda

Manchin’s pronouncement Sunday that he ‘could not’ vote for the bill has also jeopardized a provision that would extend benefits for coal miners with black lung disease for another decade, an important issue in West Virginia. If the bill does not pass by the end of the year, funding for those benefits will drop by half.

Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center: With Build Back Better Act Threatened & Year-End Deadline Approaching, National Black Lung Association Urges Quick Action to Protect Black Lung Disability Trust Fund

“If we don’t get an extension through the Build Back Better Act, then it is going to be a struggle for those of us with black lung to see what happens to the fund. We don’t know what will happen since we don’t have a one year extension. Without the four year extension in this package, we just don’t know what is going to happen. Over the last few years we have been surviving with a one year extension and even with all we have done this year, we don’t have this option,” said Gary Hairston, the President of the National Black Lung Association and a former coal miner with Black Lung in Fayette County, West Virginia.

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.

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