HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – A bankrupt coal operator is telling employees that it’s working to resolve bankruptcy issues “as quickly as possible.”
Several former Kentucky miners who say they haven’t been paid by Blackjewel LLC were blocking train tracks Tuesday as part of a protest against the company.
It started Monday when more than 20 miners and their families camped on tracks near Cumberland and several were still there the next day, holding signs that say “no pay, we stay.”
Shane Smith one of the miners protesting said his paycheck bounced July 5.
He said blocking the train full of coal is a way to show the CEO Jeff Hoops that Blackjewel can’t make money off the miners’ hard work before they’re paid what they’re owed.
“What it boils down to is that train is hauling our coal that we worked our hind ends off to get for them,” Smith said. “And the way we all look at it, when that train pulls out, Jeff Hoops is getting money for that train and we ain’t get a penny.”
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Blackjewel LLC said in a statement to employees Tuesday that it knows miners are eager for a resolution and “we are doing everything possible to bring as many employees as possible back to work as quickly as possible.”
Smith’s wife gave birth to his sixth child the day before his check bounced.
He said he’s living day-by-day to provide for his family.
“We’ve had to sell some things, I got a couple credit cards maxed out, but my kids don’t go without,” Smith said.
He said he’s not sure how long he’ll be staying out on the tracks, but the Blackjewel miners are like one big family and aren’t looking to start any trouble.
“We’re doing everything peaceful,” he said.
He says they just want what’s owed to them.
“I’m not asking for pity, we just want our money,” Smith said. “That’s all we want.”
As of Tuesday the workers have now missed three paychecks, including the one that bounced.