U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday the Department of Labor (DOL) has approved nearly $7.6 million for the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) to continue its services to help laid-off coal miners in eastern Kentucky. The funding will be used for EKCEP's Helping Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) initiative.
Senator McConnell is a strong supporter of this program and has -- on several occasions -- urged the DOL to approve this grant on behalf of Kentucky's laid-off coal miners. Currently nearly 2,000 Kentuckians are participating in H.O.M.E. and nearly 900 laid-off miners have already gained employment through this successful program, and this continued assistance will enable additional laid-off coal miners to participate.
"Our coal miners and their families, especially in eastern Kentucky, continue to struggle under President Obama's War on Coal and his latest regulations, if enacted, could lead to a reduction of nearly a half million jobs, according to an AFL-CIO union estimate. I encouraged DOL to approve this request and assist my constituents in eastern Kentucky -- an area experiencing a severe economic depression despite being rich in natural resources," Senator McConnell said. "EKCEP and the H.O.M.E. initiative are doing great work assisting Kentucky miners and their families seeking employment and training opportunities while we continue to fight the War on Coal and restore the industry that is so vital to our state."
"We are extremely grateful for the support of Senator McConnell toward the additional NEG funding we have been awarded," said EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead. "This funding will allow us to continue to meet the workforce needs of our region's unemployed miners in a time of unprecedented need, and we applaud the senator for his recognition of this plight and our ongoing efforts to address it."
Kentucky coal-sector employment has collapsed by 7,000 jobs since President Obama took office. Eastern Kentucky just saw a 3-percent reduction in coal jobs in the first quarter of 2014. At least three additional Kentuckians lose their paychecks indirectly for every mining job that's lost.