Written by Your 5News Team
Last updated on February 22, 2013 @ 7:50PM
Created on February 22, 2013 @ 6:18PM
Senator Jay Rockefeller has plans to introduce a bill to congress that would protect health benefits and pension plans for thousands of retired coal miners and their families.
It's called the Coalfield Accountability and Retired Employee Act and it aims to protect retirees from what he sees as two serious problems.
First is the uncertainty from the UMWA's 1974 pension plan which covers more than a 100,000 mine workers including 35,000 in West Virginia. He says the plan is severely underfunded and could soon not even exist thanks to to recent financial crisis and fewer contributions to the plan.
The second problem is one that we've been following since this past summer, the Patriot Coal bankruptcy proceedings that is trying to shed its obligations to retirees.
Rockefeller's bill would transfer money to meet the needs of the UMWA 1974 pension plan. It would also protect any mine retiree who loses benefits following a bankruptcy or insolvency of an employer, and it would make sure employer contributions get the same tax-exempt treatment as contributions to other pension plans.
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