August 1, 2019 Read More →

Blackjewel ignores Kentucky law, coal miners’ paychecks bounce

Lexington Herald Leader:

A coal company that wrote cold checks to several hundred Kentucky miners had not posted a bond to cover the cost of paying its workers, as required by state law.

Blackjewel LLC should have posted the bond, but it didn’t, said Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary David A. Dickerson.

“If Blackjewel had complied with state law, there could have been money in place to cover the miners’ last two paychecks,” said Sam Petsonk, a West Virginia attorney representing former Blackjewel miners in an effort to get them paid.

Failing to post the bond was among several ways Blackjewel ignored regulatory obligations, Petsonk said.

“That obligation protects the interests of the workers and the public at large — interests that are harmed by the nonpayment of wages, taxes, and benefits,” Petsonk said.

About 1,100 miners in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia lost their livelihoods when Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy July 1 and abruptly shut down operations. Dozens of those workers formed a blockade across a CSX train tack on Monday to stop a train moving coal from a Blackjewel mine in Harlan County. They allowed locomotive engines with no cargo to pass Wednesday afternoon before re-blocking the track.

“Following productive discussions with local stakeholders, the demonstrators agreed to briefly withdraw allowing a CSX crew to safely retrieve two locomotives from the blocked coal train so that we could continue serving other customers,” CSX said in a statement. “We continue to monitor the situation and are hopeful that a quick resolution can be reached.”

More: This law protects Kentucky coal miners from cold paychecks.

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