Coal miners blocking rail shipments end protest

HARLAN, Ky. (AP) — A group of Kentucky coal miners who sat on railroad tracks in order to block a shipment of coal while protesting bounced paychecks is ending a standoff after two months.

The miners formerly employed by Blackjewel in Harlan County drew national media attention for the old-fashioned protest that evoked memories of long-ago union battles with mining companies. They held signs that said “No Pay, No Coal” and received donations from around the country. They had been sitting on the tracks — in groups large and small — for nearly 60 days.

Miners started the protest in early August when their checks bounced amid the company’s bankruptcy.

Many of the miners have found other jobs or moved away, WYMT-TV reported . The news station reported Thursday that they were packing up tents and other items at the site of the protest.

Former Blackjewel miner Chris Rowe said he was looking for employment outside of mining.

“Happy that I’m going home,” he told the news station. “Not really satisfied because we were unable to see it all through but you know like I said people have lives to live and we got to go on and do what we got to do.”

Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy July 1. A lawyer for the miners said Thursday that they could go into mediation in federal court if there is no resolution to the bounced checks by a court-ordered date of Oct. 1.

Blackjewel also furloughed most of its Wyoming employees and shut down two massive surface mines, the first idled by hardship since coal mining in the western region exploded in the 1970s.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com