coal miners

WV Archive

For decades, coal was king in West Virginia. It paid good wages, paid the bills for many local services through taxes, and kept small towns alive. But more of our nation’s electricity is starting to come from other sources like wind and solar power. Coal is losing out.

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

West Virginia employees of coal operator Blackjewel LLC have received their final paychecks more than two months after the company declared bankruptcy on July 1. 

An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.
Adelina Lancianese / NPR

Nearly $2 million in federal funds will be awarded to West Virginia to help support the state’s black lung clinics.

Jessica Lilly

Robert Bailey was a coal miner for 36 years. He began working in McDowell County, and after it became too hard to breathe, he retired from a mine owned by Patriot Coal in Boone County. Bailey first told his story with WVPB in June 2014. He shared his final story with Inside Appalachia host, Jessica Lilly, on February 15, 2019. 

AllVoices.com

West Virginia University and the West Virginia Mine Drainage Task Force are presenting a symposium this week on mining and reclamation regulations and practices.

Retired coal miner John Robinson displays his mining helmet at his home in Coeburn, Va., on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.
Dylan Lovan / Associated Press

The Trump administration and coal industry allies are insisting that a federal black lung trust fund will continue to pay benefits to sick miners despite a drastic cut in funding.

Just like his grandfather and father before him, James Scyphers spent almost two decades mining coal in West Virginia.

"These were the best jobs in the area; we depended on 'em," he recalls.

Greg Kelly's grandson, Caden, scampers to the tree-shaded creek behind his grandfather's house to catch crawdads, as Kelly shuffles along, trying to keep up. Kelly's small day pack holds an oxygen tank with a clear tube clipped to his nose. He has chairs spaced out on the short route so he can stop every few minutes, sit down and catch his breath, until he has enough wind and strength to start out again for the creek.

AllVoices.com

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has made three appointments to the state's Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Justice said in a news release that he appointed Eugene White to replace the retiring Greg Norman as the office's director.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This year’s Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence at Shepherd University is Karen Spears Zacharias. Zacharias grew up in a military family but spent most of her childhood in the hills of Appalachia. During the Vietnam War, her father was killed in action, and his death left a major impact on Zacharias’ life and the lives of her mother and siblings. In this episode of West Virginia Morning, we'll hear an interview with Zacharias about how writing and faith helped her through the struggles of her youth.


August 24, 1921: Miners March to Protest Martial Law in Mingo County

Aug 24, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA), Coal Life Collection

On August 24, 1921, a group of armed miners started out on a long march southeast from Marmet near Charleston.

Their goal was to end the governor’s order of martial law in Mingo County and to wipe out the anti-union mine guard and deputy sheriff systems in Logan and Mingo counties.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators have introduced a provision that aims to boost participation in black lung detection programs.

Virginia Democrat Sen. Mark Warner introduced the amendment Wednesday into the defense, labor, health and education spending package that is being debated on the Senate floor.

If passed, the provision would require the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH to create a report for Congress within 180 days detailing how to increase participation in black lung screening programs.

One in five working coal miners in central Appalachia who have worked at least 25 years now suffer from the coal miners' disease black lung. That's the finding from the latest study tracking an epidemic of the incurable and fatal sickness.

Rural medical clinics that are struggling to respond to an epidemic of a fatal lung disease plaguing coal miners received a 40 percent boost in federal funding with the passage of the omnibus spending bill last week.

January 12, 1880: W.Va. National Guard Puts Down the First Coal Strike

Jan 12, 2018
Photo of coal miners in West Virginia, 1908
Wikimedia commons

On January 12, 1880, West Virginia National Guard troops arrived at Hawks Nest in Fayette County to put down one of the state’s first coal strikes. The strike started at Montgomery when coal operators told their union miners that nonunion competition from the nearby Hawks Nest mines was hurting business.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We end our weeklong look at our best stories from 2017, where we stepped into the archives to retell some of our favorite stories from last year.

This morning, we hear from reporters Kara Lofton and Glynis Board.

August 24, 1921: Miners March to Protest Martial Law in Mingo County

Aug 24, 2017
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV State Archives (WVSA), Coal Life Collection

On August 24, 1921, a group of armed miners started out on a long march southeast from Marmet near Charleston.

Their goal was to end the governor’s order of martial law in Mingo County and to wipe out the anti-union mine guard and deputy sheriff systems in Logan and Mingo counties.

Federal mine safety officials are warning mine operators about several on-the-job deaths this year of miners who were working alone.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration says five miners have died while working alone since the year began. Two of those deaths occurred in coal mines, and the others were at non-metal mines.

http://www.historicmatewan.com/history

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin held a packed town hall for miners in Matewan today, assuring attendees that he would fight for health benefits and pensions at risk of running out of money by the end of April.

Union miners who put in 20 or more years were promised lifelong health benefits and pensions decades ago. But as coal companies have gone into bankruptcy, they've sought to shed liabilities, including paying into the pension and benefit funds.

Betting on Trump: Coal

Feb 16, 2017

Many coal miners saw the election of Donald Trump as a moment of hope; what can he actually do to bring back coal jobs?

The Branham Family
Benny Becker / Ohio Valley ReSource

At the age of 38, a coal miner named Mackie Branham Jr. was diagnosed with progressive massive fibrosis, a debilitating and terminal form of an illness that was supposed to be a disease of the past — black lung. But Branham is among many the miners afflicted by a resurgence in the disease, and officials are just beginning to realize the scope of the problem. A review of health clinic records shows roughly a thousand such cases, many times more than federal officials had thought existed.

Congressman Ken Hechler paid to bring hundreds of miners and the widows of the Farmington miners to protest at the nation’s capitol.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Longtime West Virginia Congressman, Secretary of State, and World War II veteran, Ken Hechler has died at the age of 102. He was known nationwide for his work in improving coal mine health and safety, among many other accomplishments.

Senate Democrats dropped their objections Friday night to a short-term-funding bill to keep the government running, and the bill passed less than an hour before the midnight deadline.

It's become a familiar year-end act for Congress: passing a short-term-funding bill that will keep the government running for a few more months. This funding measure, which passed 63-36, runs out in April.

Without congressional intervention, about 16,000 retired miners in seven states will lose their health care coverage by the end of the year.

A proposal to temporarily extend the benefits is working its way through Congress. But two Senate Democrats, who are advocates for a more comprehensive plan, say the temporary provision isn't enough.

They are threatening to hold up a spending bill that needs to pass by Friday night to keep the government running.

Coal Layoffs, unemployed
Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin joined environmental officials Friday morning to award a $1 million grant that will benefit workers affected by layoffs in three coal counties.

Tomblin announced the award Friday at the Ralph R. Willis Career and Technical Center, in Logan. He says the grant will support stream clean-up efforts in Boone, Logan, and Mingo counties.

Lance Booth

In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear about what it’s like to actually work in a coal mine. So often we hear about miners from environmentalists or people who proudly declare they are Friends of Coal. But so much about what we hear about coal mining these days is full of political agendas.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Thousands of retired coal miners are gathering at the U.S. Capitol to support a bill that would preserve their health and pension benefits.

The United Mine Workers of America says its members and supporters from 13 states, including West Virginia, will rally in Washington today.

Fotolia DollarPhoto Club

West Virginia officials say a coal miner has died from injuries during an accident last week.

The state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training says Donald Workman died Thursday evening of injuries sustained in a July 29 accident at Road Fork #51 Spartan Mine in Pineville.

AllVoices.com

West Virginia officials are investigating the death of a coal miner.

State Department of Commerce spokeswoman Leslie Smithson says preliminary information suggests the miner at the Leer Mine in Grafton may have suffered a medical condition. She says a full investigation is under way by the state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

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