Manchin And Other Senators Rally To Save Pensions
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says the time is growing short on action to shore up the pensions of retired coal miners and their widows across West Virginia and other states before major problems start to arise.
“This is atrocious and for us to sit back and let it happen is absolutely sinful. We’re not going to let it,” Manchin told a gathering of supporters and Democrat colleagues in Washington Wednesday.
Manchin introduced a bill to shore up those UMWA pensions called the American Miners Act months ago.. The bill has seen no movement since it was introduced and the Senator lays the blame squarely on leadership.
“Mitch McConnell has held it on his desk and won’t let it come for a vote. We’re for everybody and this is a calamity that’s facing us,” he explained.
According to the Senator, backed by Democrat colleagues, the United Mine Workers pension is but the first which faces insolvency. If allowed to fail, Manchin said there will be a domino effect which will cascade through numerous other pension funds.
“This can’t happen because if it falls, PPG ( Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation) goes down and everyone follows and starts tumbling. We’re working extremely hard to keep that from happening,” Manchin said.
A press release from Manchin’s office claimed the impact of a wide spread failure among the pension funds could impact as many a 1.5 Million members of various organized labor unions across the country. Most members have spent their working years contributing to those pension funds in anticipation they’ll reap the benefits when they retire. The UMWA pension, which Manchin said is less than a year away from insolvency if Murray Energy goes bankrupt, covers 82,000 retired miners. Twenty-five thousand of those retirees are from West Virginia along with 20,000 fully vested workers who are still employed.
“We have one purpose and one purpose only, to make sure the people who have worked to build America and took money out of their take home paycheck to pay for these benefits is not lost to Wall Street, or some banker, or some hedge fund somewhere,” said Manchin. “After we get this done, immediately we’ve got to change the bankruptcy laws that allowed this to happen,”
By: Chris Lawrence
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