November 23, 2022 - United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts has issued the following statement:
I want to thank the House Education and Labor Committee, specifically Chairman Scott, for advancing the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act in March of 2022. Since then, however, little movement has been made to ensure that miners burdened with black lung or miner’s pneumoconiosis have access to relevant workers’ compensation and other benefits, including aid in finding legal representation and obtaining necessary medical evidence.
One hundred thousand coal miners in the last century have died a painful death from Black Lung disease due to their exposure to respirable dust in their workplace. And furthermore, we are now seeing a significant rise in black lung cases, especially among younger miners, largely caused by increased silica dust in the mine atmosphere.
The current financial stipend received through Black Lung Disability benefits only covers a fraction of a family’s monthly necessities and today, under inflation, it covers even less. This Act develops a new system for determining benefit levels that will make annual adjustments based on cost-of-living.
We urge swift action by Congress to pass H.R. 6102 and S. 4511, the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act, so that miners, who have dedicated their lives working in the mines, receive the black lung benefits they deserve.