Wetzel County Commission Shows Support To United Mine Workers of America
On Monday, December 23, Wetzel County Commissioner presented the United Mine Workers of America a plaque proglaiming the commissions support for the UMWA’s efforts in obtaining guarantted pensions and health care coverage. The UMWA benefits had been under threat with the closure of many mines and the bankruptcy of many of the major coal producers.
The commission had drafted a proclamation in support of the UMWA and presented such to local union members Larry Tustin, John Leasure, Nick Potts and Charlie Hupp. Commissioners Lisa Heasley, Greg Morris and Larry Lemon were present for the ceremony which took place following a lunch at the New Martinasville Pizza Hut.
The benefits the miners have been fighting for were recently passed in the U.S. House and Senate and subsequently signed into law by President Donald Trump. This was a fullfillment of a promise made in 1946 when President Harry Truman recognized the importance of the workers that produced the coal for this country and put the full faith and credit of the United States behind the promise of lifetime healthcare and pensions for American coal miners.
The United Mine Workers of America had negotiated the benefits through collective bargaining agreements with the BCOA over the years and had given up pay raises and other benefits in exchange for the health care and pension packages. However with the decline in the coal industry and loss of mines and mining jobs the funds were becoming insolvent and miners were facing loss of benefits.
With UMWA President Cecil Roberts and thousands of UMWA members rallying for a pernament fix to the problem, U.S. Senators Joe Machin and Shelly Moore Capito took up the battle and received bipartisan support in the House and Senate for passage of a bill which included the fix.
“It is a relief to know that we will continue to have the health and pension benefits we worked so hard to obtain. Many pensioners rely on these benefits to make it from month to month. We as pensioners spent many years working to provide reliable energy to this country. The sacfifices that have been made by the UMWA earned us the right to these benefits and we appreciate those who supported us during this long struggle,” stated local union 1785 UMWA pensioner John Leasure. “We extend that appreciation to the Wetzel County Commission for their support and presentation of this award.”