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UMWA to cover Brushy Creek retirees’ health care through Selective Strike fund

date: 
July 26, 2007

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts announced today that the union will pick up the health care costs for approximately 75 retired miners who worked for the former Brushy Creek Coal Company in Benton, Ill., who will lose their health care coverage from the company on August 1.

“These retirees gave their working lives to their company,”€ Roberts said. “And throughout their time at work, they took less money in wages in return for a promise from their employer that they would have health care when they retired.

“The miners lived up to their end of the bargain, but Brushy Creek Coal Co. and its parent company, Western Fuels, have decided not to live up to their end of that bargain." Roberts said. "Instead, Brushy Creek has callously cut off the benefits these miners earned with their sweat and blood.

“We are fighting the company’s decision in court,” Roberts said. “That will take some time, however, and we will not stand idly by and allow these retirees to go without health care while the court battle is being fought. That is why I have directed that the health care benefits of these retirees will be paid from the UMWA Selective Strike Fund effective August 1, 2007.”

This is not the first instance in recent years where the UMWA has covered retired members’ health care benefits after they have been cut off by a company. Some 2,000 retirees from Horizon Natural Resources lost their company-paid benefits in September, 2004, after Horizon went bankrupt and a bankruptcy court judge voided the collective bargaining agreement, meaning that no successor company was required to pay for those benefits. The UMWA paid for their health care benefits out of the union’s Selective Strike Fund for seven months until they were placed in the UMWA 1993 Benefit Fund.

“We look forward to prevailing in our legal case against Brushy Creek,” Roberts said. “What has been done to them is an outrage, and we will fight for them to the fullest extent of our ability, just as we do for all of our working and retired members.”

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