Black Lung

Courtesy of Germaine Watkins

A group of local journalists traveled to Haiti this fall to gather stories and images from the small Caribbean island. They brought back bits of life and culture, and what one storyteller called “another side of Haiti.”

Joining the Confluence to talk about the trip are:

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo

Unless Congress passes the Miners Protection Act by April 28, more than 2,000 retired union coal miners in Pennsylvania will lose their health care.

The bill proposes to use interest from the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to shore up the health and pension funds administered by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).  

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a refrain that U.S Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) has been repeating as he fights to get black lung benefits into the hands of coal miners in a more timely manner.

After working for several months to break up the backlog in black lung benefits claims, Casey announced plans Thursday to introduce legislation aiming to reduce fraud in miners’ cases.

According to Casey, the case backlog is in the thousands now and grows by substantial numbers each year.

Late last month, Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu announced that his department would seek a nearly $3 million funding increase for the Office of Administrative Law Judges to handle a growing backlog of black lung benefits claims.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) will send a letter to the Obama administration Thursday requesting an additional $10 million that would go towards hiring 20 new Administrative Law Judges.

Casey said the office needs to drastically increase its budget to keep up with the growing backlog of black lung claims.

Health professionals, lawyers and U.S. senators met in Washington Tuesday to explore the challenges faced by coal miners suffering from black lung disease.

The U.S. Department of Labor will look to hire two administrative law judges and bring back a retired judge in Pittsburgh in 2015 to handle growing black lung claims, according to Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu.