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5/01/2005

Worker re-training to be provided in partnership with UMWA Career Centers

The release of up to $675,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor for worker retraining services for West Virginia miners who lost their jobs when Horizon Natural Resources, Inc. declared bankruptcy is "a good first step toward helping these hard-working people rebuild their lives," United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts said today.

"Our members at Horizon lost their jobs, lost their health care benefits, and lost their sense of security when Horizon declared bankruptcy and a judge wiped away all they had worked for their whole lives," Roberts said. "And although this grant from the Department of Labor (DOL) will provide some help to them as they seek other employment-and we appreciate it very much-the fact remains that they should never have been put in this position in the first place."

"The best solution for the Horizon miners and other American coal miners is for Congress to pass legislation that reaffirms the supremacy of the Coal Act in bankruptcy cases," Roberts said, "so that bankruptcy judges can't wipe away our nation's repeated promises of health care for retired coal miners and their widows."

The first $225,000 of the National Emergency Grant, announced by the DOL on April 8, has now been transferred to the West Virginia Development Office (WVDO). The UMWA Career Centers will partner with the WVDO in recruiting, training and placing displaced Horizon miners in West Virginia beginning May 1, 2005. Roberts called on the Department of Labor to quickly release additional funds to aid the displaced Horizon workers in the midwest, as the UMWA requested in its initial National Emergency Grant application last November.

"Training through the UMWA Career Centers will help these miners to once again lead productive lives and provide for their families," Roberts said. "These miners are part of the UMWA family, and we don't forget our family members. We want to do the best we can to help them now, and into the future."

Source: UMWA

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