On June 12, Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America, was the final speaker at the 2020 West Virginia Association of Black Lung Clinics annual conference. Roberts began his remarks with a video clip of former miners testifying before the House Education and Labor Committee in June 2019 about contracting black lung at an early age and the urgent need for Congress to pass silica dust standards. His comments addressed concerns about COVID-19 and the well being of working miners and those with black lung, hailed the miners’ ten year fight that won pension and health care benefits for retired miners last December, and encouraged everyone to continue to put the pressure on Congress to pass silica dust standards to lower the kinds of cases of serious lung disease now seen among many miners. The participants at this online event included health care providers and staff at black lung clinics, public health officials, researchers, lawyers and others calling in from the coalfields and beyond. On Tuesday, June 16, the UMWA filed a petition in federal appeals court asking the court to force the Mine Safety and Health Administration, MSHA, to issue an emergency standard to protect vulnerable coal miners from the infectious COVID-19 disease.
June 26, 2020