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Coal miner’s union calls on Manchin to reverse stance on Build Back Better

Coal miners union says some provision of the spending bill benefited the community

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 21 December 2021 13:49 GMT
Manchin explains why he opposes Build Back Better legislation

The union of coal miners in the US has asked Senator Joe Manchin to reconsider his opposition to Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion climate and social spending bill.

Mr Manchin revealed on Sunday that he won’t be backing the president’s Build Back Better Act social spending plan. In an interview, he said: “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t.”

He told Fox News Sunday guest host Bret Baier: “I’ve tried everything possible. I can’t get there.”

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), which represents West Virginia coal miners as well, said that the bill contained important measures that would benefit coal miners — like an extension of funding to aid victims of black lung disease, tax incentives to urge manufacturers to build new factories and employ ex-miners and protect union workers.

Cecil Roberts, the union’s president said in a statement: “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.”

The Build Back Better Act — which the White House calls is the largest effort to combat climate change in American history —  delivers “substantial consumer rebates and tax credits to reduce costs for middle-class families shifting to clean energy and electrification,” according to the White House statement.

The union president also said that Joe Biden’s spending bill includes a provision to penalise companies that deny workers the ability to unionise. He said in the statement: “This language is critical to any long-term ability to restore the right to organise 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.”

The union also said that Senator Manchin and has a “long and friendly relationship” with the group and that they remain “grateful for his hard work to preserve the pensions and health care of our retirees across the nation, including thousands in West Virginia.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the president, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the president then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalising that framework ‘in good faith.’”

She added that “Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on Fox are at odds with his discussions this week with the president, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances.”

Mr Manchin, an honorary member of the union, also comes from a coal mining family and has worked with the UMWA for decades. He had said at the time: “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 honours of my life.”

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