The sponsor of the Miners Protection Act, Senator Joe Manchin, addresses thousands of members of the United Mine Workers of America as they gather for a rally on the National Mall in September 2016. Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)
Outside of Congressional Republicans and dirty energy CEOs, basically everyone is angry with Senator Joe Manchin for announcing that he was a “no” on the Build Back Better Act. The same goes for miners.
The United Mine Workers of America politely but resolutely told the West Virginia senator Monday afternoon that he needed to reconsider his stance on legislation that would change the US energy landscape. That miners are here and asking for the Build Back Better Act to have a fair shot says a lot about the benefits it contains — and it speaks even louder about who exactly Manchin was trying to protect when he said this version of the bill dead.
“We urge Senator Manchin to rethink his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to approve something that will keep miners at work and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families and their communities. UMWA president Cecil Roberts said. in a rack.
One of the parts of the Build Back Better Act that Roberts highlighted was benefits for miners suffering from black lungs. There is currently a federal fund that provides these benefits, paid for by a coal company fee. The disease is common to thousands of miners on Appalachia, a side effect of inhaling coal dust at work. A increasing number of miners die from it, indicating the urgent need for benefits to help them deal with the respiratory problem before it becomes fatal.
But with Manchin’s “no” on the line, the fees that coal companies have paid to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund will end this year. The act would have extended them in 2025. Federal data shows the fund has been distributed nearly $41 million of black lung patients in West Virginia by 2020, nearly a quarter of all funds distributed in the US
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Roberts also noted that the bill included provisions to “provide tax incentives to encourage manufacturers to build facilities in the coalfields that would employ thousands of miners who have lost their jobs. We support that and stand ready to help those factories.” equipped with a skilled, professional workforce.” And it also contained language that would fine employers for disbanding unions, which was also supported by UMWA. the long, bloody history of mining unions in the hands of owners and current battles, that makes perfect sense.)
One of Manchin’s main arguments against the act was that he didn’t know how to pitch it at home. But UMWA’s statement is tailor-made for a state that has relied heavily on the coal industry for its economy and identity. (There are other benefits that Manchin could have easily picked out, such as giving people with children money to buy, uh, food, but I digress.)
Instead, Manchin seems to be siding with the bosses for now; he is a best recipient of campaign of money from the coal, mining, oil and gas extraction and gas transmission and distribution industries and ranks third with Tools. The owners in those industries have against Build better back because it would reduce their profits. But the new UMWA statement shows that employees are in any case ready to sit at the table of the energy transition.
Roberts’ statement began by praising Manchin for the senator’s past support and pointing to their “long and friendly relationship.” We also know that Manchin has been cozy with Exxon and other polluters. Now it seems like the senator has to decide who to sit with.
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