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Kentuckians Head to Ohio to Fight for Their Retirement

Without congressional action, some Kentucky coal miners could lose a chunk of their pensions. (Pixabay)
Without congressional action, some Kentucky coal miners could lose a chunk of their pensions. (Pixabay)
July 12, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Hundreds of Kentuckians are in Columbus, Ohio this Thursday fighting to preserve their pensions.

They're joining thousands of other retirees to rally at the Statehouse, a day before a congressional committee meets to discuss how to solve a pension crisis.

The retirement of the baby boomer generation, the recession and corporate bankruptcies are testing the solvency of 130 multi-employer pension funds.

And Joseph Holland, president of UMWA Local 1605 in western Kentucky, will be among those at the rally with a message for policymakers.

"This is a dire situation,” he stresses. “If you do not do anything, you are putting people's lives in jeopardy here.

“That's what we want this committee to understand. We want you to know how important this is to us."

The Joint Select Committee on Multiemployer Pensions is charged with finding a solution by November. Without action by Congress, about 1.5 million retirees and workers could lose up to 70 percent of their pension benefits.

Solutions that have been discussed include federal loan programs, cuts to pension benefits and employers and taxpayers helping to foot the bill.

People from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and other states will be on hand for the rally. And Holland says it's not just retirees.

"There's a lot of wives coming,” he points out. “We've got widows that are only drawing a portion of their husband's pension and they're going to be devastated.

“We've got grandchildren that know that their grandfathers worked in the coal mine. In a lot of instances, it's a matter of survival."

The retirements of carpenters, ironworkers, coal miners and truck drivers are among those affected, pensions Holland says were earned from years of work.

He notes that a 1946 agreement with President Harry Truman guaranteed retirement security for coal miners, and it's a promise Holland believes should be kept.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY