WASHINGTON, D.C. — United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts said the problems with the mine workers’ pension funds which were guaranteed by the U.S. Government weren’t caused by coal miners.
Roberts noted to reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday the pension plan was fully funded in 2007, but the recession of 2008 threw it into financial dire straights.
“Not a single coal miner in this nation had anything to do with that recession,” Roberts said. “They were underground producing coal to generate electricity so this nation could thrive.”
Roberts said instead of coming to the aid of working people who suffered from the economic downturn, Congress sent the financial assistance to the nation’s largest banks.
“Taking it out of coal miners’ pockets and sending it to Wall Street,” he said. “People told us the banks were too big to fail, well what we need in America is a movement of working class folks who are too big to fail.”
Roberts and union members were there to continue the lobbying effort in hopes of getting a vote to shore up the pensions using money from the Abandoned Mine land Funds. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said it made the most sense.
“Less than $600 is the average pension a miner or widow gets and it means the difference in what kind of quality of life they get,” Manchin said.
The plan seemed to have bi-partisan support and Roberts noted in the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was ready to put it to a vote. The obstacle to the pension protection plan lies in the leadership of the U.S. Senate.
“We’re working Mitch McConnell and others,” said U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “But time is drawing near. We know the time certain this is going to become very devastating to our miners is really creeping up on us.”