WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown today joined U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Bob Casey (D-PA) in introducing legislation that would protect the promised pensions and health care benefits of hundreds of retired Ohio coal miners. 

“Our miners worked underground their entire lives to put food on the table and send their kids to college. They deserve the full pension and health benefits they were promised,” said Brown. “We must do more to protect these earned benefits. This bill would preserve the pension fund and give Ohio’s miners and their families the peace of mind that they’ll get the benefits they’re owed.”

The United Mine Workers of America’s (UMWA) 1974 pension plan was 94 percent funded prior to 2008. Due to many factors including the financial crisis and fewer active workers, the plan is now severely underfunded – putting the benefits of retirees in jeopardy. The 1974 plan covers more than 100,000 mineworkers, including hundreds of Ohioans. If the plan becomes insolvent, retirees could see reductions in their monthly pension checks.

The Miners Protection Act would address this shortfall to ensure that these miners and their families receive the benefits they were promised. The bill would:

  • Amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to transfer funds in excess of the amounts needed to meet existing obligations under the Abandoned Mine Land fund to the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan to prevent insolvency.
  • Make certain retirees eligible for the 1993 benefits plan if they lose health care benefits following their employer’s bankruptcy or their plan’s insolvency.