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
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.
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 expertsat an enormous costto counter
the findings by the company's doctors and experts.
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
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.
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."
Two-The Mining Industry
The Asbestos Compensation Act