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UMWA pension bonuses provide welcome boost to coalfield economy

November 17, 2008
For immediate release?: 

Phil Smith

Pension bonuses paid this month to 99,120 United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) pensioners and surviving spouses throughout the United States will “pump more than $50.1 million into the local and state economies throughout the coalfields at a critical time for our nation’s economic health,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today.

“The economic news these days is almost uniformly bad for working people throughout America,” Roberts said. “More and more people are being laid off, the levels of 401(k) plans are plummeting and home foreclosures continue to go up.

“Any boost to the economies of the communities where working families live is welcome news,” Roberts said. “We are proud that our union’s efforts at the bargaining table will once again provide just that assistance, especially in the hard-hit, mostly rural areas where our pensioners live.”

52,309 eligible UMWA pensioners who were retired as of Oct. 31, 2008, received a bonus of $565 in November. 34,841 eligible surviving spouses received a bonus of $440. In addition, 10,228 pensioners on disability and 1,742 retirees who receive a partial pension received $440. These bonus amounts were negotiated by the UMWA in the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement (NBCWA) of 2007.

Over $15 million in bonuses were paid in West Virginia, $7.6 million in Pennsylvania, $5.5 million in Kentucky and $4.2 million in Virginia. “This money couldn’t come at a more welcome time,” Roberts said. “It’s not just that the holidays are approaching; our nation needs all the economic stimulus it can get.

The bonuses were paid by the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds, a Taft-Hartley fund that is jointly administered by trustees appointed by the UMWA and management. The UMWA Health and Retirement Funds was established in 1946 in a contract between the UMWA and the federal government during a period when the nation’s bituminous coal mines had been seized by the government.

“We in the UMWA have never and will never forget those who came before us,” Roberts said. “They not only built this union, but in so doing helped build a strong middle-class in their communities. We are proud of them, and are proud to keep fighting on their behalf.”

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