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UMWA President Cecil Roberts hails introduction of mine safety legislation in Congress

February 1, 2006

United Mine Workers of America Cecil Roberts issued the following statement today:

"The legislation introduced today by Senators Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller in the Senate and Representatives Nick Rahall, Alan Mollahan and Shelly Moore Capito in the House is a tremendous step in the right direction for enhanced safety in America's mines. I applaud the entire West Virginia delegation to Congress for their swift action in the wake of the tragedies at the Sago and Alma mines in West Virginia.

"As I watched Senator Byrd give his powerful speech on the floor of the Senate today about this legislation, it was clear to me that the West Virginia delegation to Congress is sending a strong message to the Bush administration and the Department of Labor that enough is enough. The time to take strong corrective action on behalf of miners in America is now. The UMWA stands ready to do all we can to pass legislation that will make a true difference for miners passed as soon as possible.

"This legislation will give miners a fighting chance to survive situations like what happened at Sago. It will mean they have access to oxygen and communications with the surface. It will mean faster response to accidents by mine rescue teams and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

"The legislation will also mean that those coal operators who habitually violate mine safety and health laws and regulations will suffer penalties that will finally make the cost of noncompliance more than just a cost of doing business.

"America's miners need the kind of protections that are included in this bill. But they also need for MSHA to return to fully enforcing existing federal laws and regulations, as well as new laws that are passed in reaction to the recent tragedies. Without a true commitment from MSHA to do that, the great work the West Virginia delegation has done with this legislation will be for naught."

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