Some miners in Eastern Ky. are out of job again; the state offering some relief

HAZARD, Ky. (WTVQ) – During the coronaviurs outbreak many Kentuckians are filing for unemployment benefits, but for some coal miners in Eastern Kentucky this is the second time in less than a year they’re jobless.

ABC 36’s Monica Harkins first talked to Shane Smith when Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy and he lost his job in July 2019. Now, he works for another mining company.

In July, getting laid off came out of no where. He says now he was able to save a little bit before he got laid off, but it’s week three and savings are getting low.

“It sucks, you know, it impacts your family,” Smith said.

Tuesday, during governor beshear’s daily coronavirus update, Josh benton with the state’s unemployment office, recognized what miners, like smith, are struggling with. He announced the state will allow people who already received benefits after July first to re-open their claims and get another 13 weeks of unemployment.

As many know, the governor’s updates are watched by thousands.

Leslie Bledsoe is the president of With Love from harlan, a non-profit that helps support those in need. She says it felt good as an Eastern Kentuckian to get recognized on such a large stage.

“Awesome, because you know a lot of times we get forgotten about,” Bledsoe said.

Smith agreed, saying Eastern Kentucky is in a grim state right now.

“We’re wore out, broke down,” Smith said. “I mean there ain’t no jobs here.”

Bledsoe said, like they did when Blackjewel miners got laid off, Eastern Kentucky will push through because they’re a resilient people.

For more information about unemployment benefits click here.


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