Coal miners’ union lobbies for jobs in renewable energy

Dumptruck full of coal drives through strip mining area.

Enlarge (credit: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

What if the British crown had offered the Luddites a retraining program and the promise of good-paying factory jobs? Perhaps they would have accepted the textile transition?

That’s essentially what the nation’s largest coal miner union is suggesting. In exchange for job retraining, wage replacement, and preferential hiring for out-of-work coal miners, the United Mine Workers of America would support the transition away from carbon-polluting fossil fuels. It’s also calling for tax incentives to build portions of the renewable energy supply chain in coal country.

“We’ll take good paying jobs any way we can get them,” said Cecil Roberts, the president of the UWMA, in a talk hosted by the National Press Club. “The government has not done a good job, if at all, managing what’s going on in the coal fields,” he said, citing rounds of layoffs and mine closures.

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