Workforce West Virginia will receive a National Emergency Grant from the United States Department of Labor worth $1.8 million.
The funds will be managed by the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers Inc. and were announced by U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, along with U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (all D-W.Va.).
“I have proudly supported our miners and stood with them through good times and bad,” Rockefeller said. “The UMWA Career Centers provide essential training for coal miners so that they can get the skills they need to regain employment. Too many families are still struggling, and we must do everything possible to support miners and their families, and make sure they have the skills and resources to get back on their feet.”
In June, three coal producing companies — Alpha Natural Resources, Central Appalachian Mining and Arch Coal — idled operations at a number of mines that resulted in more than 1,000 miners losing their jobs.
“Though we are very concerned about the continuing job losses in the coal industry, there is no better place for these workers to get the training they need than the UMWA Career Centers,” Cecil E. Roberts, United Mine Workers of America International President said. “The job training available through the UMWA Career Centers is second to none, and the workers who receive it will be well prepared for a bright future providing for themselves and their families.”
Both Rockefeller and Manchin had written to Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, asking MSHA to continue its partnership with (UMWA) Career Centers located in Beckley, and Ruff Creek, Pa.
Manchin called West Virginia’s coal miners “some of the hardest working people in America,” and that they were “used to doing the heavy lifting that keeps this country strong.”
“When our miners are laid off through no fault of their own, I can tell you that they don’t want a handout – they want to work,” Manchin said. “I am pleased that the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania will be receiving these funds to help retrain some of our miners. It’s simply the right thing to do to help them develop the skills they need to provide for their families.”
The UMWA career centers rely on MSHA funding and provide mine safety skill training for miners, mine managers and supervisors, mine examiners, and mine rescue teams. Both facilities are equipped with smoke chambers and classrooms to better educate all mine personnel.
“While economic markets may ebb and flow, the family budget needs of our miners remain,” Rahall said. “I have long supported UMWA Career Centers and the training they provide to retool the many skills that miners already possess. This grant is a wise and timely investment in our miners and our nation.”