Department of Labor asks court to keep Blackjewel coal in Harlan County


HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Department of Labor on Monday asked the bankruptcy court to order the halt of any Blackjewel coal out of Harlan County.

According to the court filing from the DOL, the coal is considered “hot goods” and should be prevented from being transported or transferred in interstate commerce until the Blackjewel coal miners are paid in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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The FLSA requires Blackjewel to pay the miners for their work in mining and processing the coal.

The Blackjewel miners haven’t been paid since the company filed for bankruptcy July 1, 2019.

In protest, miners have blocked a CSX train with Blackjewel coal loaded cars from leaving Harlan County.

In the court filing, the DOL requested the bankruptcy court to order the halt of the Blackjewel coal in Harlan County and hold any sales from coal production in escrow until the miners are paid.

Also on Monday, out-of-work Blackjewel miners boarded a bus and passenger vans and rode to the federal bankruptcy court hearing in Charleston, West Virginia.

No decision was made on whether Contura Energy, based in Bristol, Tennessee, will be approved to buy three Blackjewel mines, one in West Virginia and two in Wyoming.  The company made the successful bid for those assets at an auction last Friday.  The hearing is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

The laid-off miners want to make sure they’re paid amid the bankruptcy and the potential sale.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at You can also follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.