The U.S. Department of Labor has asked a judge to stop a $ 1 million coal-filled train from leaving a remote mine in southeastern Kentucky to non-union workers who produced it, being paid for the effort.
Emergency motion was filed in federal court Monday, a week after coal miners began occupying a railroad track set to block the shipment. Their former employer, Blackjewel LLC, had issued bad checks to hundreds of miners in Harlan County before abruptly declaring bankruptcy July 1. Now that they are out of work, many are owed more than three weeks in compensation.
Tuesday, Knoxville-based Copper Glo Mining LLC announced that it had succeeded in bidding at the Blackjewel mines in Harlan County. In a statement, the company said it "has a plan to restart certain operations and is confident that this plan will bring jobs back to many of the former Blackjewel employees." It also pledged to fund part of the money due to Harlan County miners, who reportedly owe about $ 2.6 million. The deal includes $ 450,000 toward unpaid wages, and pledges a further $ 550,000 from future royalties after mining resumed.
"To get back the rest of what they owe, the miners also have a priority mortgage against the six million dollars that Kopper Glo will pay to the debtor at the close," Ned Pillersdorf, a lawyer representing the miners, wrote on Facebook. "However, we believe that all or nearly all of the mortgagee holders have settled their mortgage rights separately and that our primary competitors will be the government."
Protestants remain at the blockade and continue to receive support from politicians, law enforcement, and a society built around a once thriving coal industry. Some of the miners say they will continue to prevent the train from leaving Harlan County until they receive their money in full.
According to the proposed order of Acting US Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella, "the coal is considered" hot goods "and should be prevented from being transported or transferred in interstate commerce" until miners receive wages in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act
As Bloomberg Law explained on Thursday, the Trump administration's move to support miners is "dependent on a powerful, if rarely used tool," in-depth:
The tactic, called "hot goods," seeks to freeze the movement of Goods manufactured by workers shortened to wages …
The handle the government obtained from calling for hot goods is so strong that only the proposal is usually enough to make employers cave, according to several former DOL officials. To achieve the desired results, the department does not even have to submit a proposal as it did this week.
The Blackjewel case co is implied by the submission of Chapter 1
Meanwhile, the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation donated more than $ 1 million to help 508 Blackjewel lay miners in Central Appalachia earlier this week. The money was paid to local aid groups in southeastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia. Miners listed in immediate-need databases will reportedly receive $ 2,000 as early as Friday.
"The nation raged around them, understood how badly they had been abused and I think it affected things," Pillersdorf told WYMT Mountain News.  RELATED: STANDOFF: Kentucky Miners Block Train Loaded With $ 1 Million Coal After Paychecks Bounce .
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter @JeffreyCawood .