“We are the tip of the spear,” Dilly said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, introduced a bill that would transfer excess money from the Abandoned Mining Lands fund to consolidate the pension. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, co-sponsored the bill.
At a press conference calling for the bill to pass, Manchin said the bill has bipartisan support, but needs Senate leadership to get a vote.
“Put it on the tableMitch,” he told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R–Ky. “Let’s vote.
Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who co-sponsored a similar bill led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., said all miners are asking for is a ‘modest’ pension – the average benefit is around $600 per month. He said that if the fund goes insolvent, they will immediately lose about 20% of their profits, and if the PBGC goes bankrupt, they could lose 90%. “We can’t let that happen,” he said.
Brown said many affected miners have given up raises at the bargaining table in order to get the pensions. “It’s up to us to ensure that these workers and their families receive all the benefits they’ve earned over a lifetime of backbreaking work,” the Ohio Democrat said.
Dilly, 73, said he traveled to Washington not just because of his pensions, but because of the pensions of his fellow miners, many of whom are in failing health.
“People who worked in the coal mines do not regret working in the coal mines, because it is very hard and dangerous work. These are the people you work with. They are your brothers. That’s why we are here. We stay together.”
He said he was willing to return until the issue was resolved.
“As long as we can still come here, we will keep coming here until they get tired of us and say, ‘Okay, we’ll fix this. Now go away.'”