Ohio Senator Brown has always been a strong and uncompromising advocate for higher wages, reliable benefits and better working conditions. So it is no surprise that he is going to bat to protect the health and retirement benefits of America’s miners in advance of expected cuts to those benefits.
On Thursday the Brown’s office said the two-term senator is asking his colleagues in Congress to pass his bill to restore the earned healthcare and retirement benefits for 22,000 miners and widows following news that the United Mineworkers of America (UMWA) Health and Retirement Funds will be cut in just 60 days. Sen. Brown, first elected in 2006 then again in 2012, reintroduced the Miners Protection Act in January 2017 and fought in December 2016 for a long-term solution to honor the promise to our nation’s miners, according to information from his office.
“Ohio coal miners have spent decades underground to power our country, provide for their families, and retire with dignity,” Sen. Brown said today in prepared remarks. “But the promise they were made for their backbreaking work is in jeopardy and thousands across the country will lose the benefits they earned in weeks. We owe it to these miners and their families to pass this bipartisan legislation immediately to restore the full benefits they earned.”
According to Brown’s office, the UMWA’s 1974 pension plan was 94 percent funded prior to 2008, but due to many factors, including the financial crisis and fewer active workers, the plan is now severely underfunded. If the plan becomes insolvent, Mr. Brown, an original cosponsor of the Miners Protection Act to address the shortfall in the UMWA 1974 pension plan, says retirees could see reductions in their monthly pension checks. Brown is
The Senate passed a continuing resolution in December that included a four-month proposal to fund retired miners’ healthcare for the duration of the continuing resolution. In two months that effort ends, so the senator and his colleagues are calling for its renewal.
Republicans would love nothing better than to have Sherrod Brown’s head hanging on their trophy wall following the mid-term elections in two years, but to do so, they will have to beat him at his own game of being a champion of workers and workers’ rights. Sometimes called the next liberal lion of the Senate, Ohio’s senior senator won’t shrink from taking on any GOP challenger whose agenda is to cut wages for any workers, especially for miners, or reduce benefits, including the campaign by Republicans in Washington who want to take away health insurance provided by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.