Paychecks bounced, so Kentucky Miners blocked train filled with $1 million in coal

Coal miners in Cumberland, Harlan County, Kentucky are unlucky with the company that they worked for. Blackjewel filed papers for bankruptcy, and it seems that it doesn't have money to pay its workers.

Hundreds of miners, that were non-union workers received bad checks from the company on 28th June. It was just three days before the company declared bankruptcy.


Unpaid coal miners decided to take matters in their own hands, and they blocked coal-filled rail cars that were bound to leave the company's mines. It is said that Blackjewel owes a few million dollars to its ex-workers. The problem is, that according to the bankruptcy papers that the company filled, they don't have a right to get paid as first, as this would be a priority and privilege for the company's creditors.

So the hard-working miners started their protests at the end of July and were blocking trains filled with "black jewel", that is coal.

"We're not out here trying to get more than what we've earned," said one of the miners Chris Rowe. "We're just out here to get what we've earned."


As for now, miners allowed to pass just a locomotive, but they still block rail cars filled with coal. They were chanting "No pay, no coal” on their blockade.

One of the miners, Jeff Willig, asked President Donald Trump for help. "Do something about this company," he said. "See what they've done to us and what we're going through. Why can't their stuff be frozen?"

But despite Trump's silence on this matter as for now, miners received some gestures of support from the local politicians. From both parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. Republican Mitch McConnell named the company's actions as "shameful and outrageous." Amy McGrath on the other hand, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, brought some fried chicken for the demonstrators. She also said that it "makes her very angry" when she sees "so many hardworking Kentuckians who are not getting paid."

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There is also some more direct gesture of help from the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation, which announced that it will donate almost $800,000 to the unpaid workers of the bankrupted company.

Although mining jobs increased a little bit (by 4 %) during Trump's presidency, the overall trend is bad, and in the last decade, over 35 % of miners lost their jobs.

Blackjewel is also not the first mining company with the troubles. It is said to be the fifth mining company that filed for bankruptcy in the last year.

"I accept responsibility for being unable to lead this company through these difficult times," stated former CEO of Blackjewel, Jeff Hoops.

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