Over 20,000 Retired Coal Miners Could Lose Health Insurance This Week
John Leach worked in a Kentucky coal mine for Peabody Energy, the largest privately held coal miner in the U.S, for over two decades. As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy. Working in coal mines is a challenging and dangerous job, but it came with a promise from coal companies and Congress: work hard to supply America with energy and we’ll make sure you have lifetime health benefits for your families and a pension for retirement.
Unfortunately that promise isn’t being kept. A number of coal companies filed for bankruptcy and ceased contributions to their workers healthcare and pension funds. Unless Congress passes the Minor Protection Act by April 28, an estimated 22,600 retired coal miners are set to lose their health benefits.
The solution is the Miner Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that would extend health benefits to these retirees permanently. John Leach, along with the support of United Mine Workers of America and Van Jones’ Love Army initiative, is putting pressure on Congress to pass this bill. John launched a petition on Change.org and in just a few days, over 35,000 people were so moved by John’s story they signed on in support.
Explains John in his petition:
“We are in this mess because Peabody and other coal companies have used loopholes in our bankruptcy laws to throw away benefit obligations to retirees, like old clothes taken out with the trash. What they did was wrong. But the U.S. Congress has the opportunity to fix it.”
Bringing back coal jobs was a big talking point for Donald Trump on the campaign trail, but he hasn’t said much to show support for the Miner Protection Act, and coal workers have noticed. Tony Brnusak, as 62-year-old miner who has worked for nearly 40 years in a Pennsylvania mine, told the New York Times:
“I thought he was really going to help people,” Mr. Brnusak said, referring to Mr. Trump. “He’s helped the rich man, the coal operators. But nothing for us so far.”