The United Mine Workers of America plans to rally outside the U.S. Capitol Building Thursday morning in support of legislation to protect retired union members' pensions and health care benefits.
About 100 UMWA members from Illinois will be at the rally. They gathered in Pinckneyville this morning to kick off their trip to Washington D.C.
UMWA wants federal lawmakers to approve proposed legislation to protect retired miners' pensions and health care benefits.
According to its rally announcement, UMWA is calling on Congress "to keep America's promise to thousands of retirees, spouses, and dependents."
"Coal miners were promised lifetime retirement benefits by U.S. President Harry Truman in 1946. That promise has been kept up to now," the union added. "But with the majority of the coal industry in bankruptcy, companies are getting out of their obligations to provide retiree health care benefits and contribute to the UMWA Pension Fund. Retired miners are on the edge of losing everything they have worked for."
Illinois state Senate candidate Sheila Simon stood in solidarity with the local UMWA members in Pinckneyville this morning. The union endorsed Simon in her 58th district state Senate race earlier this year.
"These miners worked hard to power the Southern Illinois economy," Simon said in a statement. "Congress owes it to them to act quickly to ensure they receive the benefits they were promised and deserve."
Local UMWA leader Ace Carsons added: "Sheila's continued support of our efforts proves where her priorities lie - with the working families of the 58th district. Earlier this year, the United Mine Workers endorsed her because she has a proven record of standing up for workers' rights, no matter if it is a multi-billion dollar company or a billionaire governor trying to take them away. As a UMWA member, I'm proud to stand with Sheila Simon."