October 03, 2017

Warner, Kaine Introduce American Miners Pension Act

~ Bipartisan bill would help protect pensions for more than 7,300 retired Va. coal miners ~ 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) in introducing the bipartisan American Miners Pension Act (AMP Act).

Currently, the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan is on the road to insolvency. The American Miners Pension Act will shore up the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan to make sure that nearly 87,000 retired miners receiving pensions, as well as another 20,000 who are vested, won’t lose the pensions they have paid into for decades. In Virginia alone, there are more than 7,300 pensioners who are at risk.  

“Congress made a promise in 1946 to protect coal miners after a lifetime of arduous and dangerous work to help power this nation,” said Sen. Warner. “Earlier this year, we fulfilled part of that promise by making sure healthcare benefits for them and their widows were protected. We need to finish the deal and pass this bipartisan legislation that will ensure retired coal miners in Virginia and across the country get to keep their hard-earned pensions.”

“I am proud to join Senator Warner and our colleagues in introducing this bill to support Virginia’s retired miners who have undoubtedly earned their pensions through difficult and dangerous work,” said Sen. Kaine. “When I met with Castlewood miners a few months ago I reassured them I’d fight for their health care and I’d fight for their pensions. Now that we have secured a permanent health care fix, passage of this legislation would give our miners the peace of mind to know they are protected and their pensions are secure, allowing them to retire with confidence.”

The AMP Act would:

  • Uses the provision from the Miners Protection Act to allow transfers of excess funds in the Abandoned Mine Land program to the 1974 UMWA pension plan.
  • Direct the Treasury Department to loan the Pension Plan funds annually.
  • Cap the annual loan amount at $600 million and set the interest rate at 1%.
  • Require the fund to pay interest for the first 10 years and then pay back the principal plus interest over a 30-year term.
  • Require the fund to certify each year that the pension plan is solvent and able to pay back the principal and interest.

In May, part of legislation introduced by Sens. Warner & Kaine was passed by Congress as part of a government spending bill which secured healthcare benefits for 22,600 of our nation’s miners.