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9/01/2005

One Year Anniversary of the Horizon Natural Resources Bankruptcy

August 31 marked the one-year anniversary of the Horizon Natural Resources bankruptcy an event that changed myself and nearly 5,000 United Mine Workers of America members and their families forever.

Federal judge William S. Howard ruled to terminate the health care benefits for some 5,000 active and retired miners, many of which suffered from black lung and other disabilities as result for their years of service in the coal industry.

The UMWA stood behind the Horizon miners providing health care for those who qualified and eventually was able to place 2,500 of the affected miners on the 1993 UMWA Benefits Fund. Although the fund has been described as being in “ precarious financial position”, the union was able to sway the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA) to provide enough funding for the fund to provide benefits at current levels through the end of this year.


This unyielding dedication to its rank & file should be applauded and used as a moral benchmark that all unions should use when faced with problems (and injustices) regarding retirees’ benefits.

Although the fight to reform bankruptcy laws seems to almost be over thanks to the Bush Administration’s changes to the bankruptcy codes, let us not forget what happened a year ago and lets continue to fight like hell to make sure it never happens again.



Photos of the Horizon Protest Rallies in Lexington, KY
The Lexington 17
UMWA President Cecil Roberts protest of Massey Energy's refusal hire laid off Horizon miners

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