Was Published

3 weeks ago

News Source: wymt.com
Miner Protests Continue Into Second Day In Harlan County
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Miner Protests Continue Into Second Day In Harlan County

HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Update 11 a.m. TuesdayTuesday afternoon will mark 24 hours since Blackjewel miners first saw a train loaded with coal they mined for free.

Miners are still set up a few miles down the railroad tracks, where they are blocking the train from leaving the Cloverlick #3 Mine. They were asked to leave a different location on the tracks Monday night, so they moved to this spot instead.

All of the miners out there have not been paid. Some are $3,000 in the hole, with their accounts frozen and bills delinquent.

"To get off these tracks today is for the company to contact each and every one of these miners for the whole company and say 'your money will be handed back to you within whatever amount of days.' But if we can be guaranteed that our money is going to be handed back to us, we can leave these tracks," said Chris Rowe, a Cloverlick #3 miner.

The miners have signs that read "no pay, we stay." Cars and trucks driving by are honking in support, and the community is rallying behind them.

Update 5 a.m. TuesdayThe protest continued through the night and into Tuesday morning.

More than 20 miners and their families camped out on the train tracks near Cumberland Monday night to make sure none of the coal loaded on the trains coming from the mine in Cloverlick was able to get in or out.

Miners have one clear message: Pay them for what they worked for. One of them told our Connor James that until they get some answers, they have no intention of moving.

"We get our money, this load of coal that's on this train can go by. But until then, there'll be no trains coming in, there'll be no trains going out," said Shane Smith, one of the miners affected by the Blackjewel bankruptcy.

Smith also told WYMT that he would go to jail before he would move, an answer that was common with some of the other miners participating in the protest.

"You know, we're doing without money, food and everything else before our kids are starting back to school. We can't even get clothes or nothing else for them, so it was like a kick in the face. That's basically what it was," said Chris Rowe, who worked at the Cloverlick #3 mine.

We're told the miners and their families plan on working in shifts to keep the tracks blocked.

Overnight, people from the community brought food, water and chairs to those involved in the protest.

Update 10 p.m.Miners and their families re-gathered at Sandhill Bottom and are blocking a train on the tracks.

The Mayor of Cumberland Charles Raleigh says around 60 to 100 people are blocking the tracks.

According to the Tri-City News, miners have started a corn hole tournament on the tracks.

Original StoryBlackjewel miners are confused and frustrated as they try to find out why a train is carrying coal away from a mine in Harlan County. Some chose to take it into their own hands by standing on the tracks to keep the train from leaving.

WYMT began receiving messages before noon Monday about a train hauling something away from Cloverlick Mine 1.

The mine belongs to Revelation Energy LLC, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 1st along with its affiliate Blackjewel LLC. Since then, Blackjewel miners have been without work and without pay.

Viewer-submitted photos show the train loaded up with coal. A skeleton crew worked around the train.

Small groups of miners and individuals came to and from the mine's gate. They tried yelling to the crew on the other side of the fence, asking what is happening to the coal. At least one miner was heard asking when he and his co-workers would be paid.

"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?" said Chris Lewis, a former miner who is owed around $4,000.

Around 4:00 p.m. a group of five miners, most of whom worked at the Cloverlick mine, got on the tracks. Another man joined not long after. They are currently staring down the train and refusing to move, forcing the train to a standstill.

"They're sitting here loading trains. So that's exactly what we're doing," said one miner.

Police arrived at the scene and asked the protesters to step off of the tracks. We are told the protests have continued, but the train has been allowed to pass.

We reached out to Blackjewel's bankruptcy attorney for an explanation but have not heard back yet.