US senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller and Representative Nick Rahall confirmed late last week that the national emergency grant from the Department of Labor would be managed by United Mine Workers of America career centers and were to provide reemployment services to about 200 laid-off miners.
“Our coal miners are some of the hardest working people in America and they are used to doing the heavy lifting that keeps this country strong,” Manchin said.
“When our miners are laid off through no fault of their own, I can tell you that they don’t want a handout – they want to work.”
He said the UMWA’s career centers in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania would be receiving funds to help retrain miners and aid them in further developing their skills.
“While economic markets may ebb and flow, the family budget needs of our miners remain,” Rahall said.
The legislator has been instrumental in fighting to keep the career centers safe from federal budget cuts.
“This grant is a wise and timely investment in our miners and our nation,” he said.
Senator Manchin sent a communication in June to US Mine Safety and Health Administration assistant secretary Joseph Main asking the agency to continue partnering with the union’s centers in Beckley, West Virginia and Ruff Creek, Pennsylvania, which relied on MSHA and state funding.
Both centers, which have smoke chambers and classroom spaces, provide advanced skills training for new and inexperienced miners, incumbent miners, mine managers and supervisors, mine examiners and mine rescue teams.