July 12, 2012

Manchin, Rockefeller, Rahall Announce $1.8M Grant to Help Train Laid-Off Miners

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, along with Representative Nick Rahall (all D-W.Va.) announced today that Workforce West Virginia will receive $1.8 million to provide reemployment services to about 200 West Virginia workers affected by statewide layoffs in the mining industry. This National Emergency Grant from the Department of Labor will be managed by the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers Inc. 

“Our coal miners are some of the hardest working people in America, and they are used to doing the heavy lifting that keeps this country strong,” Senator Manchin said. “When our miners are laid off through no fault of their own, I can tell you that they don’t want a handout – they want to work. I am pleased that the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania will be receiving these funds to help retrain some of our miners. It’s simply the right thing to do to help them develop the skills they need to provide for their families.” 

“I have proudly supported our miners and stood with them through good times and bad,” said Senator Rockefeller.  “The UMWA Career Centers provide essential training for coal miners so that they can get the skills they need to regain employment.  Too many families are still struggling, and we must do everything possible to support miners and their families, and make sure they have the skills and resources to get back on their feet.”

“While economic markets may ebb and flow, the family budget needs of our miners remain,” said Rep. Rahall, who has fought to save UMWA Career Centers from Federal budget cuts and supported efforts to enable the Centers to offer expanded mine safety training. “I have long supported UMWA Career Centers and the training they provide to retool the many skills that miners already possess.  This grant is a wise and timely investment in our miners and our nation.”

“Though we are very concerned about the continuing job losses in the coal industry, there is no better place for these workers to get the training they need than the UMWA Career Centers,” said United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts. “The job training available through the UMWA Career Centers is second to none, and the workers who receive it will be well prepared for a bright future providing for themselves and their families.”

Background on Senator Manchin’s support for the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers:

In June, Senator Manchin wrote to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main asking MSHA to continue its partnership with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Career Centers located in Beckley, West Virginia and Ruff Creek, Pennsylvania. These facilities rely on funding from MSHA and the states to provide advanced mine safety skills training for new and inexperienced miners, incumbent miners, mine managers and supervisors, mine examiners, and mine rescue teams. Both facilities have smoke chambers and classrooms to accommodate the scope of training that is necessary to provide better education to mine personnel. 

Senator Manchin asked Assistant Secretary Main to continue providing MSHA funding that allows the UMWA Career Centers to provide this training. 

Background on Senator Rockefeller’s Support for the UMWA Career Centers:

Senator Rockefeller has long supported the efforts of the UMWA Career Centers to make sure that miners have the resources and training available to safely do their jobs, and also get critical training when they lose their jobs.  On April 16, Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Assistant Secretary Main after the U.S. Department of Labor released its Internal Review of MSHA’s Actions at the Upper Big Branch mine, and he recommended that MSHA continue to work with the UMWA Career Centers in Beckley and Ruff Creek, Pennsylvania, including for mine safety training.  The report found that those responsible for the safe operation of the mine didn’t have the adequate training, and Senator Rockefeller asked MSHA to consider a mine safety training program to address the safety deficiencies that were identified.