On July 1, U.S. Coal giant Blackjewel suddenly declared bankruptcy and fired 1,800 workers, mostly in Kentucky. One June paycheck bounced and the final checks never came. Blackjewel owes miners millions in earned wages, health insurance, retirement savings and coverage for Black Lung disease.
On July 30, a train carrying a load of coal worth $1.4 million was blocked by Appalachian miners and their families. No coal train has moved since. In the brave 100-year tradition of Harlan County miners, “No pay, we stay,” they declared.
A blockade encampment is now organized with a phone line, solar shower and collective kitchen. Unions, other workers and local businesses have donated food, raised money and helped block the tracks. A group of transgender anarchists arrived and spent a month helping organize work, meals and publicity.
It’s a “which side are you on” moment. Blockaders are fighting against unscrupulous companies using bankruptcy to steal from healthcare funds, retirement and paychecks. Support from all organized labor is needed. Individuals and unions can donate by visiting gofundme.com/f/DonatetominersHarlanCAA.