Thursday, June 04, 2015

Mineworkers union president urges members to lobby against natural gas plants, emission rules

Cecil Roberts
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts told several hundred members on Wednesday in Morgantown, W.Va., "to lobby against new natural-gas power plants and rally around other political battles as the union reels from the loss of coal-mining jobs in Appalachia and threats to benefits plans for thousands of retirees," Kris Maher reports for The Wall Street Journal.

Roberts told the miners, “Our members are being laid off in numbers we haven’t seen in decades . . . If these gas-powered plants get built in West Virginia, don’t expect to have a coal-mining job in West Virginia. We’re cutting each other’s throats.”

Roberts "urged members to get more politically active to back federal legislation from coal-state lawmakers to delay the implementation of emission rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and to shore up a union plan that pays out about $600 million a year in health benefits to 97,000 retirees and dependents," Maher writes.

"The union says more than 15,000 coal miners have lost their jobs in Appalachia since 2011, including what Roberts said was up to 2,000 UMWA members in the past several years alone," Maher writes. "Thousands of other jobs at companies that supply mines with fuel and supplies have also been laid off."

Roberts also said that if the bankruptcy judge handling the Patriot Coal case allows the labor contract with UMWA to be terminated, the union would strike, Maher writes. Roberts told miners, “If the judge says our contracts are terminated, we’re going to shut that company down."

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