In Kentucky, irate coal miners are protesting after their company failed to pay them.
The miners have been blocking a trainload of coal from being transported down the tracks for several days now.
CBS News reported that the miners are “blocking a train loaded with coal from leaving the mine after its owner, Blackjewel, the sixth-largest coal mining company in the country just two years ago, abruptly filed for bankruptcy last month.”
The miners are demanding back-pay after the company issued bad checks to hundreds of non-union workers before declaring bankruptcy, resulting in lost jobs and overdrawn bank accounts.
The Daily Wire reported that “protestors have occupied a section of railroad tracks near the remote town of Cumberland since last Monday when six out-of-work miners gathered to block a train loaded with $1 million worth of coal from leaving a mine owned by their former employer, Blackjewel LLC. The encampment grew last week as churches, politicians, and a community already ravaged by a declining coal industry rallied to support miners’ effort to get compensated for their work. Blackjewel reportedly wrote cold checks to about 350 miners in the country.”
The miners are justifiably upset over the bounced checks and the abrupt bankruptcy filing by the coal company. They have even more cause to be frustrated given the fact that a bankruptcy court-approved nearly $8 million in loans from Blackjewel since filing for bankruptcy, yet they still haven’t gotten any money to cover their bounced checks.
Kentucky.com reported that “Blackjewel secured court approval to move ahead with its plan to sell mines in Wyoming and West Virginia to another coal company, but the court has not yet ordered Blackjewel to pay the wages of Kentucky miners.”
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell spoke out on behalf of the coal miners. He said that Blackjewel’s actions were “shameful and outrageous. The company needs to be held accountable for its horrific mismanagement.”
The Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, said that he is doing what he can to help the miners in their crusade to get paid.
The Daily Wire reported that “a spokesperson for Republican Governor Matt Bevin said he ‘remains committed to using every tool available’ to help the miners. He met with demonstrators on Saturday after posting a video on social media, encouraging people to contribute to their cause. Bevin promoted two local nonprofits that have committed to assisting the families in need.”
This story highlights the struggles the coal industry has had in recent years. Barack Obama declared war on the coal industry, and he once remarked that power companies could build coal-powered plants but that they would go bankrupt as a result.
In the Obama era, 35% of mining jobs were lost. Coal jobs are returning during the Trump presidency, and are up by 4% since his inauguration, but the industry continues to struggle.
The coal miners have vowed to continue to block the coal from being transported until they get paid, and as media attention around the protest grows, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.