White signs advocating for the protection of pension and healthcare benefits were waived at a United Mine Workers of America rally in Lexington Tuesday. An estimated 4,000 miners, retirees, and family members filled the city’s convention center. They gathered to demand that Congress pass legislation protecting pensions and health care benefits for miners and their families.
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts said miners have earned what they’ve been promised.
“We have stood up for America and it’s time America stood up for us! America owes us! And we will collect on that debt!” Roberts told the crowd.
Miners could lose their retirement benefits this fall if Congress doesn’t act. Roberts says union members will march on Washington D.C. and risk being arrested if that’s what it takes. He told miners to go home and find at least five others that would be willing to rally at the nation’s capital.
Spouse Becky Gardner says she wants what the miners were promised.
“Milk and bread keeps getting higher and they’re just wanting to take the pension away. And we can’t live without the money we worked for,” Gardner said.
Some of those at the rally came with oxygen tanks, while others were in wheelchairs.
While the travel to Lexington was difficult for some, they said it was important for them to be there. People from seven states attended the event.