Westmoreland Beulah Mine Misses Settlement Deadline to Avoid Bankruptcy

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The Beulah Westmoreland Mine and The United Mine Workers of America have not reached a settlement following their February 28th deadline.

They’ve been battling in bankruptcy court, and the coal company notified mineworkers in December that they may lose their health and retirement benefits, including their pensions if the company goes belly up.

UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“As the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of Westmoreland Coal draw to a close, I want to make sure our active and retired members and their families who are affected by this bankruptcy are up to date with where we are.

“We have negotiated a tentative collective bargaining agreement with the buyer of the Kemmerer and Beulah mines. However, we have not reached a final agreement with the seller of those mines on funding for retiree health care going forward.”

Judge David Jones of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston, did order Westmoreland to set aside $6 million for retiree health care, meaning retirees do not have to worry about their immediate health care needs. But that is not enough to make it through the year, so negotiations are ongoing.

Roberts continues, “When a final agreement on retiree health care is reached, the union will bring the tentative agreement before the membership for an explanation and a ratification vote. We expect this to occur by March 15, pending further rulings from the court.”

“Regardless of how much money we are able to secure for retiree health care going forward, it will not be enough to provide the lifetime benefits that retirees earned and were promised. That is why we have worked with our allies in Congress to introduce House Resolution (HR) 924, the Health Benefits for Miners Act of 2019, and Senate Bill 27, the American Miners Act. These bills will put Westmoreland retirees’ health care under the umbrella of the UMWA Health and Retirement funds and will provide lifetime coverage”

“I urge all active and retired UMWA members at all former Westmoreland operations, their families, friends and community leaders to contact their members of Congress and urge that they support HR 934 and S. 27. The promise must be kept to all retired UMWA miners, their dependents and widows.”

For more information and letters from mineworkers, click here.

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