Coal miners urge Manchin to rethink opposition to spending bill

Mark Chediak

America’s biggest coal mining union is calling on West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to reconsider his opposition to President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social and climate spending bill.

The legislation includes several provisions that would aid coal workers, including extension of a fee that helps fund benefits for workers suffering from black lung and tax incentives that would encourage manufactures to build facilities in coal fields and to employ out-of-work miners, said United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts in a statement. For the first time, the bill would also penalize employers that deny workers their rights to form a union, Roberts said.

“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,” Roberts said. 

West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword also asked Manchin to continue negotiating with Biden on the bill because it would help the state’s workers and their families. 

Manchin, a Democrat who represents a coal-rich state, said on Sunday that he was opposed to Biden’s signature domestic policy legislation in part because of concerns that it would speed up a transition away from fossil fuels that would threaten the reliability of the electric grid and make the U.S. more dependent on foreign supply chains. Supporters of the legislation have pushed back against those concerns.