Senator Clair McCaskill is joining West Virginia Senators Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito to earn enough votes in the Senate to pay for union incompetencies in managing the coal miner’s pension.
A press release on Thursday, October 5, 2017, noted that McCaskill wants US taxpayers to cover coal miners’ insolvent pension plans:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is again joining West Virginia Senators Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito in a bipartisan effort to permanently protect the pensions promised to tens-of-thousands of miners and their widows, including more than 600 in Missouri.
“Hardworking folks across Missouri and this country were made a promise that if they worked hard and played by the rules, their decades of hard work would earn them a stable pension,” McCaskill said. “If Congress can’t uphold this promise for the hard working folks who helped power this county—putting their own health and safety on the line—then shame on Congress, because fixing this and keeping our word is the right thing to do.”
Currently, the 1974 United Mine Workers of America Pension Plan is on the road to insolvency. The Senators’ American Miners Pension Act will shore up that pension plan to make sure that nearly 87,000 retired miners receiving pensions, as well as another 20,000 who are vested, won’t lose the pensions they have paid into for decades. There are 648 Missouri pensioners who are at risk.
Former President Barack Obama did all he could to kill the coal industry. A federal appeals court was considering a challenge by coal-friendly states and more than 100 companies who called Obama’s efforts an unconstitutional power grab.
President Trump promised that he would bring coal jobs back and he did with Executive orders once he was elected. Trump revived the coal industry and the new jobs are needed to fund the coal miners’ pension plans. But the problem with lack of funds necessary to cover coal miner pensions is not only due to lack of jobs.
According to Rachel Greszler at the Heritage Foundation:
The primary reason the UMWA cannot pay promised pensions to workers who earned them is because it gave pensions to an entire generation of coal workers who did not earn them. Right after the fund was established in 1947, the UMWA fought dogmatically to begin paying pension benefits immediately to workers who did not earn them. It fought so hard, in fact, that the plan’s neutral trustee resigned in frustration and the miners walked out in March 1948. The UMWA got its way, and the first pension check was issued months later in September 1948. This proved an incredibly costly action, as the recent decline in the coal industry and, in particular, union coal producers, has made it virtually impossible for current UMWA workers to pay off the cost of providing those initial pension benefits to workers who did not earn them.