U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) have introduced legislation to expand retraining opportunities for dislocated coal miners.
The bipartisan Assisting America's Dislocated Miners Act, H.R. 663, would establish a Dislocated Miners Assistance Program at the U.S. Labor Department to identify dislocated miners, assess their skills and training, identify job training programs, and provide grants to job training providers. The bill would also authorize $20 million a year for five years to fund the Dislocated Miners Assistance Program.
"I'm pleased to join Representatives Jenkins, Welch, and Ryan in reintroducing the Assisting America's Dislocated Miners Act. I believe that the federal government should help Americans affected by major shifts in the economy. That's what the Assisting America's Dislocated Miners Act would do; it would help laid-off coal miners get the training they need to start new careers so they can continue to support their families," Rep. Doyle said.
"While we fight to restore coal jobs in West Virginia and Appalachia, we must also provide for the miners who are out of work and for their families. My bill, the Assisting America's Dislocated Miners Act, will help us provide retraining opportunities for even more unemployed miners. We can get them back to work in good-paying jobs while also revitalizing our coal communities. My legislation will give our coal families hope and the promise of a paycheck, not an unemployment check," Rep. Jenkins said.
"Miners across the United States work in difficult and punishing conditions so that our country has the energy and materials it needs to operate on a day-to-day basis. Their work is the reason the lights come on when we flip the switch, and why so many of the products used throughout the day are able to exist. As our energy sector evolves, it is our responsibility, not our choice, to make sure that miners in Ohio and across the country who have worked so hard are not left behind. The investment in training, education and recruitment that this legislation provides for is critical to doing just that. I am proud to support it," Rep. Ryan said.
"Times are tough for coal workers -- I saw it first hand when I visited a West Virginia coal mine in 2015 with Rep. David McKinley. For generations, they have risked their lives to keep our homes warm, our factories working, and our lights on. Now it's time for their country to help them. As our energy landscape changes, Congress has an obligation to ensure displaced workers in the coal industry have the skills and tools they need to transition into meaningful careers in other industries," Rep. Welch said.
United Mine Workers of America Career Centers Executive Director Clemmy Allen said the bill will provide much-needed support for dislocated miners.
"At the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers, we are dedicated to helping displaced coal miners learn new skills and find new jobs to support their families. The Assisting America's Dislocated Coal Miners Act will provide us with steady funding and the certainty needed to offer training to any miner in need," Allen said.