On Monday, The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), representing West Virginia coal miners, urged Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to revisit his opposition to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) plan, after the opposition sunk Democrat’s plan to pass the historic, nearly $2 trillion legislation.

The union pointed out that BBB includes an extension of a fund that expires at the end of the year and provides benefits to miners suffering from black lung disease. The union also noted tax incentives encouraging manufacturers to build facilities in coalfields that would bring back jobs to thousands of coal miners who are currently unemployed.

Coal Miners via Flickr / b3tarev3 https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/

Cecil Roberts, President of the union, explained in a statement:

“For those and other reasons, we are disappointed that the bill will not pass. We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.”

On Sunday, Manchin went on Fox News and announced that he would not support Biden’s crucial climate and social spending bill, sikning its chances in the 50-50 split Senate. He cited concerns that fellow lawmakers should instead be addressing inflation, the national debt, and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and surge.

Manchin comes from a coal mining family and is an honorary member of the UMWA, which some believe makes the union’s plea to Manchin the most likely to change his perspective.

Manchin issued a statement when he was made an honorary member of the union:

“Standing alongside the UMWA members while they fought tooth and nail to secure the pension and healthcare benefits they rightfully earned has been one of the greatest honors of my life.”

West Virginia via Flickr / Joel Kramer https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Roberts concluded in his statement that the BBB includes a provision to penalize corporations that deny their workers unionization, taken from the larger pro-union PRO Act, which Manchin supports:

“This language is critical to any long-term ability to restore the right to organize in America in the face of ramped-up union-busting by employers. But now there is no path forward for millions of workers to exercise their rights at work.”

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Christopher Powell