Coal Miners Union To Joe Manchin: Support Build Back Better

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) said the Build Back Better Act would provide benefits to coal miners in West Virginia.

America’s largest coal mining union that represents West Virginia coal miners is urging Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to “revisit his opposition” to the Build Back Better Act.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) listed out the ways the historic piece of legislation that Manchin opposes would benefit the coal miners he was elected to represent.

“The bill includes language that would extend the current fee paid by coal companies to fund benefits received by victims of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, or Black Lung,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts said in a statement Monday. “But now that fee will be cut in half, further shifting the burden of paying these benefits away from the coal companies and on to taxpayers.”

The $2 trillion bill would also “provide tax incentives to encourage manufacturers to build facilities in the coalfields that would employ thousands of coal miners who have lost their jobs,” the statement said. The bill would also provide stronger union protections for workers, Roberts said.

“But now there is no path forward for millions of workers to exercise their rights at work,” he added.

Manchin went on Fox News Sunday to announce he would not support the bill, and later said in a statement that rising inflation, the new COVID-19 variant, the national debt and “geopolitical uncertainty” all contributed to his opposition.

In his statement, Roberts said UMWA has had a “long and friendly relationship” with the senator, but said the union was “disappointed that the bill will not pass.” Roberts also urged Manchin to support voting rights legislation.

“I also want to reiterate our support for the passage of voting rights legislation as soon as possible, and strongly encourage Senator Manchin and every other Senator to be prepared to do whatever it takes to accomplish that,” Roberts said. “Anti-democracy legislators and their allies are working every day to roll back the right to vote in America. Failure by the Senate to stand up to that is unacceptable and a dereliction of their duty to the Constitution.”

On Monday, Manchin further explained that he rejected the legislation because White House staff “put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable.”

In private conversations with other lawmakers, Manchin blamed poor people for his opposition. More from HuffPost’s exclusive report:

In recent months, Manchin has told several of his fellow Democrats that he thought parents would waste monthly child tax credit payments on drugs instead of providing for their children, according to two sources familiar with the senator’s comments.

Continuing the child tax credit for another year is a core part of the Build Back Better legislation that Democrats had hoped to pass by the end of the year. The policy has already cut child poverty by nearly 30%.

Manchin’s private comments shocked several senators, who saw it as an unfair assault on his own constituents and those struggling to raise children in poverty.

Manchin has also told colleagues he believes that Americans would fraudulently use the proposed paid sick leave policy, specifically saying people would feign being sick and go on hunting trips, a source familiar with his comments told HuffPost.

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