Harlan County Coal Miners Block Train Tracks as Dispute Intenfises

Non-union coal miners block train tracks outside of Blackjewel's Cloverlick coal mine in Harlan County, Kentucky (WYMT)

In a sign of growing labor tension in Harlan County, Kentucky, over 60 coal miners today blocked a coal train from leaving the Cloverluck mine owned by Blackjewel.

In early July, Blackjewel, which employs over 1,700 miners nationwide filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Without notice from the company, workers’ paycheck bounced this much with some workers being owed as much as $3,000 or $4,000.

Today, workers lat Blackjewel’s Harlan County, Kentucky mine noticed that train full of coal was being loaded. Suddenly, a group of half-dozen non-union miners showed up to block then. Eventually, more than 60 laid-off coal miners and their families showed up to block the train.

The non-union coal miners blocked the train for most of the day until the police arrived and made them let the train go through. However, workers continued their protest outside of the company this evening; threatening to escalate tactics if they aren’t paid what they are owed.

“Pay us. That’s all we want, our money, what we worked for, pay us. Regardless of if the company starts back up or not, they need to pay the men, cause we went in there and did do the job for them, you know what I’m saying?” Chris Lewis, a former miner who is owed around $4,000, told WYMT.

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About the Author

Mike Elk
A Sidney-award winning labor reporter, Mike Elk is the founder of Payday Report and also covers labor and immigration for The Guardian. In 2015, he was illegally fired for union organizing as Politico’s senior labor reporter and used his $70,000 NLRB settlement to start Payday. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh He can be reached at Melk@PaydayReport.com

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