Bipartisan Jenkins bill would identify, help retrain dislocated coal miners

Evan Jenkins

A new program would be established under the Department of Labor to help identify and retrain dislocated coal miners under bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV).

The Assisting America’s Dislocated Miners Act, H.R. 663, would establish a Dislocated Miners Assistance Program within the Department of Labor to identify coal miners, assess their skills and training, and provide grants to job training programs that could help them.

“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,” Jenkins said. “My bill, the Assisting America’s Dislocated Miners Act, will help us provide retraining opportunities for even more unemployed miners.”

The bill, which Jenkins introduced with U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Peter Welch (D-VT), would also authorize $20 million per year to the Dislocated Miners Assistance program over a five-year period.

“We can get them back to work in good-paying jobs while also revitalizing our coal communities,” Jenkins said. “My legislation will give West Virginia’s coal families hope and the promise of a paycheck, not an unemployment check.”

Since reaching a peak in September 2014, mining employment has declined by 221,000 or 26 percent, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Clemmy Allen, the executive director of the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers, said the bill would provide needed support to West Virginia’s dislocated coal miners.

“West Virginia coal helped build this great country, but now our coal miners are struggling,” Allen said. “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.”