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Blackjewel miners could receive back pay after proposed deal

Posted at 5:09 AM, Oct 03, 2019

HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — It looks like former Blackjewel miners in Harlan County will get their back pay. A proposed deal is on the table, about a week after the miners stopped protesting.

Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy in July, leaving miners without a job.

Protesters spent nearly two months camped out at tracks in Harlan County, blocking train cars carrying coal from leaving the area.

According to the Herald-Leader, Blackjewel Marketing and Sales, the company who owns the coal on the train, would pay Blackjewel $5.5 million. Blackjewel would then use that money to give miners their back pay and any other money they're owed, like 401(k) contributions.

Even though the protest ended, the train hasn't moved yet because the Department of Labor calls the coal 'hot goods,' because it was produced by workers who haven't been paid. The proposed deal would allow the train to move on.

Throughout the protest, miners were helped by their community.

"It's things like that that keep their spirits up, knowing that other people are supporting them and they've got other people standing behind them,” said Leslie Bledsoe, president of the non-profit group ‘With Love From Harlan.’

The group said the protesters are now pursuing other opportunities.