Miners union endorses Grimes in Kentucky

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has endorsed Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky’s Senate race, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempts to paint her as an enemy of coal.

In a statement, the UMWA said Grimes has proven herself to be a coal advocate.

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“Ms. Grimes is not only a strong supporter of coal and the coal industry,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts said in the Saturday statement. “She is the only candidate in this race who is also a supporter of coal miners.

"She cares about their health and safety on the job. She cares about what happens to them once they retire after a career of dangerous, backbreaking work,” Roberts continued. “She cares about what happens to their families, and what can be done to make their communities stronger.”

McConnell has made it a priority to tie Grimes to a variety of President Obama’s policies, including energy and labor policies that he said amount to a “war on coal.” The most recent major example was the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed carbon pollution limits for power plants, which McConnell said would destroy coal and put miners out of work.

Grimes, meanwhile, has distanced herself from Obama’s policies, and come out hard against decisions that could harm coal, including the EPA rules.

When she won her primary in May, Grimes blamed McConnell for EPA rules that hurt coal, saying they happened while he was in the Senate’s leadership.

“Miners need a strong voice on their behalf in Washington,” Roberts said.

The UMWA criticized McConnell for voting against an amendment last week that would have removed the “pension smoothing” from a transportation funding bill. Under the provision, employers can reduce their contributions to employee pensions.

“Sen. McConnell had a golden opportunity to support retired miners and their dependents in Kentucky, but instead chose to vote against them,” the union president said.