UMWA

Lawmakers Warn Of Economic Fallout From Failing Pensions

Jul 18, 2018
A union miner at an Ohio rally for pension protection.
Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts fired up a crowd of thousands of union workers in Columbus, Ohio, with a simple chant: “Fix it!”

The rally last week came on the eve of a congressional field hearing on problems plaguing multi-employer pension programs like the one retired miners depend upon.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the House Judiciary Committee has begun to examine evidence in the possible impeachment of one or more West Virginia Supreme Court justices. Members heard testimony Thursday from auditors on the improper use of state vehicles and rental cars, a justice’s possession of a historic desk and a fast spend-down of a budget surplus.

This was a particularly active period in the Mine Wars—a violent time that pitted miners against coal operators.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Labor leader Fred Mooney was born in Kanawha County on January 23, 1888. At age 13, he began working in coal mines as a trapper boy. 

Six years later, at the young age of 19, he became secretary-treasurer of District 17 of the United Mine Workers of America.

In later years, he was involved in an automobile dealership and a real estate addition in the Spring Hill section of South Charleston
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Labor lawyer Harold Houston died in Florida on January 17, 1947, at age 74. When he was young, his parents moved from Ohio to Jackson County and then to Charleston.

In 1901, after getting a law degree from West Virginia University, Houston opened a legal practice in Parkersburg.

Miners’ Pensions A Major Part Of Spending Debate

Dec 14, 2017
Courtesy of the office of Sen. Brown

  Retired union coal miners are joining teamsters, iron workers and other union retirees in an effort to shore up their ailing pension plans, and they hope the ticking clock on a government spending bill will help.

Some Democrats want to see protections for retirement benefits included in the omnibus spending bill, which Congress must pass in order to prevent a government shutdown. That could set up a year-end showdown over the spending bill, with major implications for retirees in the Ohio Valley region.

http://www.historicmatewan.com/history

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin held a packed town hall for miners in Matewan today, assuring attendees that he would fight for health benefits and pensions at risk of running out of money by the end of April.

Union miners who put in 20 or more years were promised lifelong health benefits and pensions decades ago. But as coal companies have gone into bankruptcy, they've sought to shed liabilities, including paying into the pension and benefit funds.

The Register was then published in the afternoons and on Sundays.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Newspaperman Charles Hodel was born in Ohio on January 13, 1889. After learning the printing trade, he moved to Beckley at age 24 and became editor and general manager of the Raleigh Register newspaper.

Thanks to the rapidly expanding coal industry, Beckley was a booming town.

In 1929, Hodel and his associates acquired the Register’s competitor, the Post-Herald, which became Beckley’s morning paper. The Register was then published in the afternoons and on Sundays.

Democrats: McConnell Fix for Miners’ Health Care Inadequate

Dec 7, 2016
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press File Photo

Senate Democrats on Tuesday blasted a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to temporarily protect health care benefits for thousands of retired coal miners.

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About 12,500 union coal miner retirees are receiving letters warning them they'll lose their health benefits on Dec. 31 without congressional action.

The Patriot Voluntary Employee Beneficial Association shipped the letters last week. The United Mine Workers of America retirees worked at mines run by now-bankrupt Patriot Coal, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Thousands of retired coal miners are gathering at the U.S. Capitol to support a bill that would preserve their health and pension benefits.

The United Mine Workers of America says its members and supporters from 13 states, including West Virginia, will rally in Washington today.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday over the case of Erik Wells, a former Democratic state senator who wants to run for Kanawha County clerk as an independent candidate and Ashton Marra joins host Beth Vorhees to talk about our new political podcast, Viewpoint. 

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

U.S. National Archive Jack Corn

On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we talk about the American Dream and what it takes to reach it in Appalachia. We hear from JD Vance, author of the new bestselling book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, which is about his time growing up in a rust belt town in Ohio, and in Jackson, Kentucky. In this episode, we’re going to hear stories about the working class here in Appalachia and talk about some larger battles they’re fighting today.

Sam Church
Tim C. Cox/Bristol Herald-Courier / WV Humanitites Council

Union leader Sam Church died in Bristol, Tennessee, on July 14, 2009, at age 72.

He was a native of Matewan in Mingo County. Both of his grandfathers had been coal miners as had his father—before becoming a barber.

In 1965, Church became a miner in Virginia and joined the United Mine Workers of America. In 1975, UMWA President Arnold Miller named Church to his staff. Church was elected vice-president of the UMWA in 1977 and moved into the presidency in 1979 following Miller’s resignation.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The United Mine Workers of America is holding a series of meetings with coal miners this week to go over details of a new contract agreement.

The UMWA says the meetings concern a tentative agreement with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, which is made up of many Murray Energy coal mine operations.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

One of the largest coal operators in the region, Alpha Natural Resources, is striking deals so that the terms of its bankruptcy can be finalized in court. One deal protects hundreds of workers; another sets aside millions for environmental cleanup.

Malcolm Wilson / Humans of Central Appalachia

As coal jobs continue to disappear in Appalachia, some families are holding tight to the idea that coal will come back. Surprisingly, it’s not the pay that they miss about the work but the bond that comes with working in the mines. They often call it a 'brotherhood.'

Courtesy of Dale Payne

Not many Americans know the story of the Mine Wars that were fought between workers, labor unions and mine company guards during the early 1900s. In this show, Jessica Lilly talks with filmmaker Randy MacLowry, whose new PBS documentary The Mine Wars focuses on these armed uprisings by labor organizers in the coalfields of southern West Virginia. 

Jim Justice
Scott Halleran / Getty Images

The United Mine Workers of America threw its support behind businessman Jim Justice in the West Virginia Governor’s race. 

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The top national miners union official says West Virginia should request an extension to submit a plan to comply with federal carbon emission standards on coal-fired power plants.

In prepared remarks Tuesday at the Governor's Energy Summit at Stonewall Resort, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts said West Virginia shouldn't refuse to submit a plan to comply with the push against global warming. He said the state should request an extension until September 2018.

Courtesy of Kenneth King and the WV Mine Wars Museum

Amid news of more mine lay-offs, one former coal town has built a labor museum to attract visitors. Driving down to the new West Virginia Mine Wars Museum , you really feel the fading towns and cities, sliding into the backdrop of the mountains. It's surreal. Many places in Appalachia are. It’s sad to many people who remember the thriving economy here when coal was booming. Wilma Lee Steele says she hopes the museum in Matewan will become a place where people throughout the coalfields can come to reclaim their identity. “I think that we have a lot to say, and I think we’re gonna say it. We’re gonna tell our history, and we’re gonna come together as a community.”

Credit Courtesy Of WV State Archives (WVSA), Coal Life Collection

This past weekend, over 500 people visited Matewan, West Virginia to catch a glimpse of a new museum that tells the story of a dark and bloody time in West Virginia’s labor history.

Bernard Pollack/(aflcio)

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) is planning to make its objections to proposed EPA rules loud and clear. The union has a rally scheduled at the end of the month in Pittsburgh.


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The United Mine Workers of America is joining the coal industry in a rare occasion to oppose proposed regulations meant to curb carbon emissions.  The industry worries the regulations will financially cripple coal’s economy, as well as West Virginia and everyone dependent on a coal job.

With 95 percent of the energy produced in West Virginia coming from coal fired power plants, many within the industry feel the state will be the hardest hit by the new proposal.

Roger Horton, a retired miner from Logan County paints a grim picture already evolving in coal country.

He sees an EPA ignoring its economic impact on countless coal mining families.

The United Mine Workers of America is giving "qualified support" to the Obama administration's new rule aimed at cutting the amount of coal dust in coal mines.

The union said today that it approves of many parts of the rule, which was issued last month. Among them is a reduction in the overall dust standard from 2.0 to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air.

But the union says it is concerned that dust monitors would be required only in coal-producing sections of mines.

Still, the union says on balance the rule should lead to a reduction of black lung disease.

United Miner Workers of America

This New Year’s Eve marks the 44th anniversary of the murder of Union presidential candidate Joseph “Jock” Yablonski.

Earlier this month the trigger-man in the 1969 murder, Paul Gilly, petitioned the court asking to be released from prison.  But the union believes Gilly should stay behind bars.

Dark time in United Mine Workers of America history

Jock Yablonski, his wife and daughter were murdered December 31, 1969. It was just over a year after the Farmington Disaster, where an explosion killed 78 men, underground.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A look back to New Year’s Eve 1973 years ago and the murder of mine union presidential candidate Joseph “Jock” Yablonski, the Cacapon and Lost River Land Trust obtains an easement on property along the Morgan Hampshire County line, the Marshall Thundering Herd gets set to square off against the Maryland Terrapins in the Military Bowl, and Robert Earl Keen performs "Who Do Man" on this Mountain Stage song of the week.

The United Mine Workers is reminding miners to stay safe during the government shut down. Three miners died in just as many days over the weekend. 

UMWA president Cecil Roberts is urging all miners to be especially careful at work.

Roberts said, “check on your buddy,” and “watch each other's back.”

On Friday 62-year-old Roger R. King from Moundsville was killed after an accident at CONSOL Energy's McElroy mine in Marshall County. He was employed as a longwall maintenance coordinator and had 42 years of mining experience.