Coal miners union: $6 million set aside for Kemmerer retiree health care won’t last year | State & Regional


The coal miners union that represents employees on the Kemmerer mine in western Wyoming is unlikely to exchange the lifetime health advantages misplaced within the Westmoreland chapter, however continues to barter with the corporate for a greater deal.

The union can be negotiating its contract with the probably purchaser of the Kemmerer mine, Virginia businessman Tom Clarke.

In a press release for miners and their households printed Friday, the United Mine Workers of America famous that the $6 million a chapter decide not too long ago instructed Westmoreland to set aside for retiree health care wouldn’t last the year.

It’s about six months’ price of protection for the 1,500 Westmoreland retirees, stated Phil Smith, director of communications for the union. Workers related to the Kemmerer mine represent about 500 of that group.

Westmoreland Coal Co. filed for chapter in October, citing the troubled coal market. Judge David Jones of the chapter courtroom in Houston not too long ago granted Westmoreland the precise to dispense with retiree health care liabilities. The decide additionally dominated in Westmoreland’s favor in regard to breaking the union contract with the corporate.

Once the health care settlement is determined between the union and Westmoreland, the union plans to method its members with the bargaining settlement it’s brokering with Clarke, the brand new proprietor. Miners should vote on that contract and the union expects that to occur inside the subsequent two weeks, in response to the Friday announcement.

“Regardless of how much money we are able to secure for retiree health care going forward, it will not be enough to provide the lifetime benefits that retirees earned and were promised,” stated worldwide president of the UMWA Cecil Roberts in a press release Friday.

Roberts inspired miners and their households to jot down to their congressmen in assist of payments that might assure advantages to miners like these from Kemmerer, together with Senate Bill 27, the American Miners Act.

“The promise must be kept to all retired UMWA miners, their dependents and widows,” Roberts stated.

Sen. John Barrasso criticized Westmoreland’s actions, together with the bonuses the corporate provided to executives previous to chapter, in a Friday e mail to the Star-Tribune, however stopped wanting supporting laws proposed by the union.

“The men and women who worked in the Kemmerer mine have been put in a terrible position by the Westmoreland Mining Company,” he stated. “It was Westmoreland’s responsibility to live up to the contract it had with workers and retirees.”

The senator doesn’t assist Senate Bill 27, he stated.

“I am committed to finding a solution that will lessen the burden on the miners who have been denied the health benefits promise,” he wrote. “(Senate Bill 27), as written, would create an enormous liability for taxpayers that goes way beyond the Westmoreland case.”

Previous makes an attempt by the United Mine Workers of America to ensure pensions by way of Congress haven’t discovered assist in Wyoming leaders. Sen. Mike Enzi was a vocal opponent of a UMWA invoice two years in the past that might have assured coal miner pensions with federal funds.

Enzi famous on the time that the majority of Wyoming’s miners weren’t in a union. He additionally famous on the time that underfunded pension plans have been a major problem within the U.S. however that funding the coal miners’ plan alone didn’t handle the broader danger to employees.

A spokesman for the senator stated Friday that Enzi was nonetheless reviewing the Kemmerer state of affairs.



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