Peabody Coal and Arch Coal moved most of their union miners working in Appalachia and southern Illinois to Patriot Coal after creating that company in 2007, Rahall pointed out.
Manchin said, "A strong mining industry begins with a strong commitment to our miners. They are the backbone behind decades of lighting our cities and heating our homes, and deserve nothing less than the best possible benefits and care."
The bill introduced Wednesday would would:
* Amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to transfer excess money from the Abandoned Mine Lands funds to the UMW's 1974 Pension Plan to prevent the insolvency of that plan.
* Make any retired coal miner who loses benefits because of the bankruptcy or insolvency of his or her employer eligible to collect benefits under the 1992 Coal Act. Rockefeller and Rahall played major roles in passing that act to preserve health benefits for retired and disabled miners and their families.
* Guarantee the full value of employer contributions under the UMWA Retiree Bonus Trust receive the same tax-exempt treatment as contributions to other pension plans, so that the full value of cash contributions from coal companies will go to retired miners who earned pension benefits under union contracts.
"This legislation is about standing up for coal miners, their widows and our coalfield communities," Rahall said. "After a lifetime of labor, they have earned the right to retire and live in dignity and I refuse to stand idly by as our miners see the benefits they earned over a lifetime eroded by forces beyond their control. It's not fair."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.