‘No pay, we stay’: Blackjewel miners continue to block train from leaving mine


CUMBERLAND, Ky. (WJHL) – A group of miners is continuing to block a coal train from leaving a mine in Eastern Kentucky in protest of unpaid wages.

Miners with Blackjewel LLC have been stationed along a section of track outside the Cloverlick mine in Cumberland, Kentucky since Monday afternoon and say they aren’t leaving until they get paid.

According to WYMT, several supporters have brought food and water to the protesters, including members of a church in South Carolina. The mayor of Cumberland told the station Monday that as many as 100 people were blocking the tracks.

At one point, police told the miners they couldn’t be on the tracks but the protest continued, according to WYMT.

Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy protection and suddenly ceased operations on July 1. Hundreds of miners in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Wyoming were told to stay home and many discovered that their last paychecks had bounced or been clawed back by their banks.

“My wife picks my check up, pays a few bills. Next thing we know our account’s three thousand in the negative and our accounts frozen,” Jeff Willig told WYMT.

The company secured enough financing to allow a limited number of employees to return to work, but just enough to secure the company’s mines and other properties.

According to the Associated Press, Blackjewel issued a statement to employees Tuesday saying it is working to resolve bankruptcy issues “as quickly as possible” and is “doing everything possible to bring as many employees as possible back to work as quickly as possible.”

In a statement, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said he backs the state’s coal miners.

“I fully support our miners. Blackjewel failed to pay them for weeks of hard work and the way the company filed for bankruptcy prevents miners from accessing their 401Ks, making it even harder for them to feed their families during this trying time. There are even allegations that the company deducted child support payments from miners’ paychecks that were not sent to aid their children. Last week, I met and listened to miners’ concerns – what this company is doing to them is wrong – and I am doing everything I can through my office to help these families. Every Kentuckian should see their plight and support them.”

-Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear

A spokesperson for the railroad, CSX, sent News Channel 11 this statement:

“CSX is monitoring the situation in Harlan County, KY. We understand this is related to a dispute between the mining company and its workers. CSX has taken precautions to ensure the safety of our employees and hopes for a quick resolution.”

-CSX Spokesperson

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