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Government shutdown puts UMWA lawsuit on hold

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The partial government shutdown nationwide is having an effect on a major lawsuit in West Virginia.

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts.

According to a release by president Cecil E. Roberts, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) received a notice from the United States District Court of the Southern District of West Virginia that their lawsuit against the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been put on hold for at least two weeks due to the government shutdown.

Roberts calling the stoppage “unacceptable and puts miners at risk,” as part of his statement Thursday. The lawsuit from UMWA is in regards to the alleged unlawful lifting of the Pattern of Violations (POV) status at Pocahontas Coal Company, LLC’s Affinity Mine.

“Our lawsuit demanded that the court immediately order MSHA to put the Affinity Mine back on POV status because, without the extra enforcement that comes with such status, there is no reason to believe mine management will maintain the highest safety standards,” Roberts said in the release. “In addition, other mines that are currently on POV status may feel free to ignore safety issues if they believe MSHA will continue to flout Congress’s express mandate regarding removing a POV status.

“Obviously, if government employees at the Court are not being paid, they should not work. It is a real shame that the critical work our government employees perform day in and day out is being held hostage to issues that do not pertain to them or the issues they deal with on our behalf. There are real people whose lives are at stake here. Every day we delay raises the risk. Congress and the President need to put our government employees back to work without delay. “

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