USA: Continuing protests due to unpaid wages by bankrupt mining company

Author: Josiah Bates, Time , Published on: 13 August 2019

"Blocking Coal Train Railroad Tracks Over Wage Complaints, a Protest by Kentucky Miners Is Now Entering Its Third Week", 12 August 2019 

Coal miners in Kentucky continue to protest their former employer by blocking a railroad track that carries coal trains, demanding back pay after being laid off last month.

The protest, which started on July 29 in Cumberland, Kentucky, is in response to workers who were laid off by their former employer, Blackjewel LLC, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 1...

The protest started with around 20 miners, posted on the track for nearly 50 hours straight — often by themselves, Jeff Willig, one of the workers who started the protest, tells TIME. Now it’s grown with the miners working in shifts of around 8-12 hours to ensure continuous coverage on the track. Members of the local community have shown their support, setting up an outdoor kitchen, providing first aid kits and bringing water and ice for the protesters...

Blackjewel, which was founded in 2017, was one of the largest coal mining companies in the country. Its bankruptcy filing also affected employees in Wyoming, Virginia and West Virginia; in total about 1700 miners have been affected. According to the AP, Blackjewel is selling its assets to cover nearly $400 million in debts...

The last paycheck the miners received was on June 28. But, according to Joe Childers, an attorney for the miners, the checks bounced. “There was about three weeks and one day they worked that they never got paid for,” Childers tells TIME.

The coal miners have filed a class action lawsuit for back pay in federal bankruptcy court. The suit also alleges the misappropriation of funds intended for the miners’ 401k accounts.

Blackjewel did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TIME...

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has confirmed the state’s Labor Department has opened an investigation. “We will use every available tool within Kentucky’s statutory authority to help our hardworking miners and their families receive financial restitution”...

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Related companies: Blackjewel LLC