Coal miner and union leader Walter (Joe) Burke has passed away.
Burke began working in the mines when he was 16. He rose to become head of District 26 of the Unitewd Mineworkers of America from 1986-1994. His obituary says Burke was 80 and finally died of black lung.
Burke was a champion for those who suffered from sickness or disability as a result of working underground and fought for compensation for longtime workers with lung problems. In the 1980s, the province added something known as “automatic assumption” to the workers’ compensation framework for miners with 20 or more years of experience who suffer from loss of lung function.