Securing Retired Miners’ Pensions

Tens of thousands of retired coal miners and their families face financial roof collapses if Congress does not act to prevent them.

When the United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan was established, no one foresaw a time when it could become insolvent. But — in part because of a government-caused recession in much of the coal industry — that time is at hand. Within a few years, the pension program may run out of money.

U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., wants to do something about that. He has introduced a bill, HR 935, aimed at protecting retirement payments under the 1974 pension plan.

Enactment of the measure, co-sponsored by nine other representatives, would not be a simple government bailout of the miners’ pension plan. It rests on a restructuring that should keep the program viable long into the future.

As has been pointed out, if the program collapses, taxpayers could be on the hook.

“Miners put their lives on the line every day to produce the energy that powered our nation’s economic engine,” McKinley pointed out. “We need to keep our promise to them, so they have peace of mind and certainty for the future.”

Precisely. This is a looming catastrophe for as many as 100,000 retired miners and their families. It will not resolve itself.

McKinley and HR 935’s co-sponsors are right: Now is the time for Congress to act on the miners’ pensions.

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