WASHINGTON, D.C. — West Virginia’s U.S. House delegations is taking steps to protect employee benefits impacted by the Patriot Coal bankruptcy.
Rep. David McKinley, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. Nick Rahall and 14 bipartisan colleagues introduced the Coal Mine Health Care and Pension Protection Act of 2013.
The bill would protect health care provisions and pensions that are impacted by the Patriot Coal Company.
In a statement released Thursday Congressman McKinley said the bill is needed.
“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.”
Ever since Patriot Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy , United Mine Workers of America union members have held numerous rallies in protest against the proceedings.
“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,” said Rep. Rahall in a statement. “This effort is about standing up for coal miners, their widows, and our coalfield communities.”
The UMWA claims Patriot was intentionally set up to fail by Arch Coal and Peabody by dumping their long held pension and retiree healthcare obligations onto the newly formed company.
In her own statement released Thursday, Rep. Capito said it’s not right that the workers should lose their benefits.
“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,” said Rep. Capito in her statement. “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. I will continue to fight for our coal miners and the retirees whose benefits are at risk.”
In the meantime, negotiations continue between Patriot and the UMWA.