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
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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