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UMWA Praises Bankruptcy Reform Legislation

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts Praises Today’s Introduction of Legislation in the U.S. Senate and House That Would Prevent More Coal Operators From Being Allowed to Terminate Miners’ Promised Coal Act Benefits By Declaring Bankruptcy

Legislation Prompted By What Recently Happened in Federal Bankruptcy Court to Thousands of Horizon Natural Resources Coal Miners and Their Dependents.

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts is praising today’s introduction in the U.S. Senate and House of companion bills targeted at preventing coal operators from using federal bankruptcy laws to terminate Coal Act-promised lifetime health care benefits to the miners they employ.
The legislation was prompted by an Aug. 31 ruling in federal bankruptcy court in Lexington, Ky., that allowed Horizon Natural Resources to terminate the health care benefits of some 2,000 retired miners and their dependents covered under the Coal Act.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) introduced his bill today in the U.S. Senate and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced his today in the U.S. House.

"The UMWA is extremely thankful to our friends in Congress for introducing this very important legislation, and also to those members of Congress who have already given their support to the measures," said Roberts.

"This is a great first step in beginning to address the travesty of justice that occurred in Lexington."

He continued, "One of the primary reasons the Coal Act was passed in 1992 was to prevent coal operators from being able to walk away from their obligation to provide lifetime health care benefits to the miners they employed–through the courts, through bankruptcy, or by whatever means. The principal focus of the legislation introduced today is that bankruptcy law–or any other law for that matter–should not be allowed to supercede the Coal Act. Hopefully, these bills will help confirm Congress’s intent to the courts, which would be a huge help to our campaign to prevent any more Horizons."


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