Congress Should Keep Promises to Mine Workers

Starting in the years after World War II, mine workers were an important part of the American economy. They did the hard, dangerous work that helped make sure the country prospered. Without them, the country could have been a much different place. And we promised them that we, as a country, would take care of their health care and retirement for their service. If Congress doesn't act soon, many retired mine workers could lose their health care and pensions.

Congress has until April 30 to pass legislation that would make sure we continue to keep this promise. On that day, the extension Congress passed in December will expire, as will funding for many retired mine workers' health care.

Call 855-976-9914 to tell Congress to pass the Miners Protection Act.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts spoke to the importance of passing the Miners Protection Act, which was introduced this year by West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin (D) and Shelley Moore Capito (R):

 

We believe something will be done about the health care for 22,600 retirees and their dependents by the end of April, because if that doesn’t happen, they will lose their health coverage. I don’t believe the leadership on either side wants to see that happen.

We’ve got bipartisan support to this. It’s got to happen with respect to the health care.

No other group of workers actually was promised this by the United States government. These people earned these benefits. This is not a handout. This is not welfare. This is something these people are entitled to because they worked for it and energized this nation.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addressed the legislation in his speech before the National Press Club last week:

Today UMWA retirees are on Capitol Hill lobbying for a fair retirement deal. Over 20,000 health care cut-off notices have been sent out and benefits are set to expire on April 30. We have a responsibility to keep our promise to America’s coal miners. Congress should send the Miners Protection Act to President Trump’s desk today.

Mining was a dangerous and difficult job and my family was not rich by any stretch. But unionism gave us a ladder to the middle class, and I got to climb it.

For too many people, that ladder is gone. We’re going to have to rebuild it. Rung by rung.

Follow the story with the hashtag #TheyEarnedIt.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO.

 

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

Freight can’t wait

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

A freight train hauling lumber and nylon manufacturing chemicals derailed, caught fire and caused a 108-year-old bridge to collapse in Tempe, Ariz., this week, in the second accident on the same bridge within a month.

The bridge was damaged after the first incident, according to Union Pacific railroad that owns the rail bridge, and re-opened two days later. 

The official cause of the derailments is still under investigation, but it remains clear that the failure to modernize and maintain America’s railroad infrastructure is dangerous. 

In 2019, 499 trains that derailed were found to have defective or broken track, roadbed or structures, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s database of safety analysis.

While railroad workers’ unions have called for increased safety improvements, rail companies have also used technology and automation as an excuse to downsize their work forces.

For example, rail companies have implemented a cost-saving measure known as Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which has resulted in mass layoffs and shoddy safety protocols. 

Though privately-owned railroads have spent significantly to upgrade large, Class I trains, regional Class II trains and local, short-line Class III trains that carry important goods for farmers and businesses still rely on state and local funds for improvements. 

But cash-strapped states struggle to adequately inspect new technologies and fund safety improvements, and repairing or replacing the aging track and rail bridges will require significant public investment.

A true infrastructure commitment will not only strengthen the country’s railroad networks and increase U.S. global economic competitiveness. It will also create millions of family-sustaining jobs needed to inspect, repair and manufacture new parts for mass transit systems, all while helping to prevent future disasters.

More ...

There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work