May 27, 2016

Manchin Statement on 70th Anniversary of Truman Promise Protecting Miners' Health Benefits and Pensions

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the 70th anniversary of the Krug-Lewis Agreement that President Truman brokered in 1946 that guaranteed miners’ lifetime health benefits and pensions to honor their hard work that built our country.

“This Sunday is the 70th anniversary of the promise that President Truman made to our miners that they will receive lifetime health benefits and pensions. Our miners are the hardest working people in America and have dedicated their lives to powering our nation. President Truman knew the coal that these miners produced for this country was so important that he needed to step in to ensure that our miners receive lifetime pension and health benefits for their dedication and hard work powering our nation.

“Before the creation of the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds, there was no pension plan for retired coal miners and medical care in the nation's coal field communities consisted of a pre-paid system based on deductions from the miners' paychecks. This system was not in the best interests of the miners and they went on strike to fight for the benefits they deserved. On May 29, 1946 the strike ended at the White House with President Truman and the signed Krug Lewis agreement.

“Today, these miners are now facing multiple pressures on their health care and pension benefits as a result of the financial crisis and corporate bankruptcies and we are in jeopardy of breaking our promise. The UMWA 1974 Pension Plan is now severely underfunded and on the road to insolvency. This December thousands of retirees and their widows will lose their health benefits and next December they will lose their pension benefits if we do not act now.

“With 27,000 retired miners living in West Virginia, the most in the country, we cannot wait any longer to pass the Miners Protection Act. We must protect these benefits and keep our promise to our miners who have mined the coal that won us wars, that built our country and will continue to power our country for decades to come.”