Blackjewel Protest

Blackjewel Miners Could Get More Money From Proposed Settlement

Sep 2, 2020
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

A proposed $17.3 million settlement of a class action lawsuit would provide additional payment for hundreds of Appalachian coal miners who were suddenly left jobless by the abrupt bankruptcy of the Blackjewel mining company. 

The settlement must be approved by the judge overseeing the complicated Blackjewel bankruptcy case. Although it is not yet final, attorneys for the miners call the agreement a “major victory” in bankruptcy court, a venue that is often not favorable to workers’ claims. 

Protesting miners blocked the tracks in the morning fog.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


It’s a quiet, foggy morning on Highway 119 in Cumberland, Kentucky. A railroad track runs along the highway, and here, Sand Hill Bottom Road crosses the tracks and turns to the right, leaving a rough triangle of gravel spattered with trash. 

You can hear crickets chirping, birds twittering, cars passing on 119. A billboard advertises Portal 31, a coal town tourist attraction. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we revisit Kermit, West Virginia and reflect on how millions of opioids could flood a town of 350 people. Also, in this show, it’s been one year since the two-month long Blackjewel protest. We look back at what it meant and its impact.

Nicole Musgrave

Girls Rock Whitesburg in Whitesburg, Kentucky is a music camp for female, gender-fluid, non-binary, and trans youth. Over the course of a week campers learn an electric instrument, form a band and write songs. At the end, they perform in front of a live audience. While the camp focuses on electric music instruction, participants also learn how music is tied to social justice.


Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

On a blistering August afternoon in Cumberland, Kentucky, David Pratt, Jr. stood in the middle of a two-lane highway, holding a sign that read “COAL MINERS AND TRUCKERS AGAINST CORPORATE AMERICA.” A few yards away, his father, David Pratt Sr., who is graying but still muscular, leaned back in a lawn chair perched precariously on the crossties of a railroad. His eyes focused on the spot where the tracks disappeared around the bend and more than $1 million worth of coal idled in train cars.

Protesting miners block train tracks in morning fog.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource file photo

Coal miners who went without pay when mining company Blackjewel declared bankruptcy this June are one step closer to receiving lost wages. The checks come weeks after some of the miners ended a long-running protest, and months after the federal Department of Labor first intervened to allege the company violated labor laws in the month before it folded.

Blackjewel Miners Likely To Receive Pay In DOL Deal

Oct 3, 2019
An attorney briefs miners attending the Blackjewel bankruptcy hearing.
Courtesy of Ned Pillersdorf

The U.S. Department of Labor and a company associated with Blackjewel agreed this week to put nearly $5.75 million toward coal miners left unpaid in the company’s chaotic bankruptcy.

The July 1 bankruptcy of one of the nation’s largest coal companies left 1,100 coal miners in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia out of work and without weeks of pay.

Miners assemble on railroad tracks to block a shipment of coal from a Blackjewel mine.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

The nearly two-month blockade of a Kentucky railroad track is coming to an end as unpaid coal miners end their protest in order to take new jobs, start classes, or move away from their coal-dependent communities.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Blackjewel coal miners will have to wait at least another day to learn if the sale of the bankrupt coal company’s mines and equipment will deliver their overdue paychecks.

Blackjewel Miners Continue Protest Ahead of Bankruptcy Hearing

Aug 2, 2019
Miners and supporters hold a meeting along the railroad tracks.
Curren Sheldon

Miners left unpaid by the bankrupt Blackjewel coal company say they are prepared to keep up their protest on railroad tracks in Harlan County, Kentucky, where they are blocking delivery of a load of coal. As their protest grows and gains attention, a bankruptcy court hearing on Monday could determine whether and when the miners get their paychecks.