HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — After almost two months of being camped out on railroad tracks, former Blackjewel Coal employees have ended their demonstration.
The protest started after BlackJewel declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the beginning of July, saying that they would need around $6 million to pay their employees. Weeks had passed since the miners' final paychecks bounced, so the miners started protesting to get paid for their labor. They did so by blocking train cars filled with coal from leaving the area, arguing that they should receive the back pay they are owed before the bankrupt company sell the coal. The demonstrators did allow CSX to retrieve their engine, just without the coal.
Since the bankruptcy, hundreds of miners struggled to make ends meet, but many people reached out to help through donations.
After weeks on the tracks, the non-profit group Love From Harlan tells LEX 18 that the group of protesters are leaving the railroad to pursue other opportunities. There is no word yet on when a federal judge will make a decision on their back pay.