Score One-Mining Industry

The coal miners have sacraficed their health to dig the coal that powers our economy and they should be protected and compensated for their sacrifice. Black lung victims should have to worry from month to month, from appeal to appeal, as to whether they are going to be determined eligible to receive benefits

Prior to George W. Bush's inauguration, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and black lung associations and claimants were assuranced by government lawyers that they would fight to protect the new black lung rules and see to it that they were immediately implemented, explained UMWA International President Cecil Roberts. Now, just a few weeks after Mr. Bush has taken office, we are witnessing a full-scale reversal on the assurance to fight for the immediate implementation of the regulations by the very same government lawyers who made it in the first place.

The modified Department of Labor regulations would ease claims restrictions in federal disability benefits by reducing the number of medical "reports" each side can gather on each issue in a disputed claim. Currently, when a coal company disputes a claim, it hires doctor after doctor, expert after expert, to try to block the claim. This process usually requires the victim to find experts–at an enormous cost–to counter the findings by the company's doctors and experts.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in the U.S. Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, placed a "stay" or delay, on key sections of the new rules until a final decision on the merits of the case, which is not expected until at least mid-June. The primary provisions of the new rules were challenged in a lawsuit brought by the coal industry, via the National Mining Association.

The UMWA stated the injunction was granted based on misrepresentations made by government attorneys that 1 or 2 percent of black lung claims would be delayed by the preliminary injunction. After gathering additional information over the weekend, the UMWA determined that nearly half of all black lung claims could be delayed.

The UMWA and black lung victims are expressing outrage at the Bush Administration's support for the lawsuit, which places the health and welfare of miners afflicted with the disease in a state of limbo. "It is clear to me that the coal industry knew it had a friend in President Bush when it decided to pursue this lawsuit," added Roberts. "What appalls me most is that President Bush campaigned throughout the coalfields on his strong support for black lung benefits. It did not take long for that rhetoric to fall flat". "These rules officially took effect on January 19 with the full support of the federal government. Now, just weeks after George Bush was sworn-in as president, the government is doing an about-face, siding with the coal industry in its lawsuit and further victimizing black lung victims and their families."

See Also:

Score Two-The Mining Industry
The Asbestos Compensation Act
Industry Contribution Trends