Advocates Collect 10,000 Signatures In Support of Miners

Dec 6, 2016

Eric Dixon, Katie Dollarhide, and Brad Shepherd, members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, deliver a petition to Sen. Mitch McConnell's London office.
Credit Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

Some 10,000 signatures were delivered to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s London office Monday asking the majority leader to support the Miner’s Protection and Reclaim acts.

The petitions were delivered by representatives from Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

Eric Dixon was one of the three folks toting boxes to McConnell's office. He said it's only the beginning. "If we find he doesn't liste to us and these 10,000, we will be back later this week with more," said Dixon. And, he said, it that doesn't work they will take the fight to Washington, D.C. There is a movement building, he said. 

“Not only people in Kentucky but all across the country, people are really coming out and pushing for this, you know, saying ‘this is something I want to happen right now, in 2016’,” he said.

The Miner’s Protection Act is a bipartisan push to rescue the failing pension and health benefits of thousands of retired union miners. Funding shortfalls have grown as mining companies declare bankruptcy. 

In a telephone town hall Tuesday Kentuckians for the Commonwealth  trained people how to contact their elected representatives in support of the acts. Katie Dollarhide, of Letcher County, hopes others who’ve been silent will join in the call for action.

“I don’t feel  like have had my voice listened to yet and I really want that done," said Dollarhide. "I feel like I have the right to have my voice heard, everybody does.  I’m speaking not just for myself but for people in my community.”

McConnell has pushed back against saying the Miner's Protection Act saying it helps only union miners. The Reclaim Act would provide $1 billion to revitalize Appalachian communities hit hard by the loss of coal jobs. 

A spokesman for McConnell said Monday the senator has met with members of the United Mine Workers of America several times and is working on "a path forward."