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Coal miners in Kentucky continue to protest their former employer by blocking a railroad track that carries coal trains, demanding back pay after being laid off last month.
The protest, which started on July 29 in Cumberland, Kentucky, is in response to workers who were laid off by their former employer, Blackjewel LLC, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 1. As well as “operational issues” in its mines, the company cited “a combination of declining commodity prices, reduced domestic demand for thermal and metallurgical coal, and increased oversight and costs associated with regulatory compliance” as factors leading to it going bankrupt in court filings.
“The entire U.S. mining complex has been impacted by these events. A growing number of peers have filed for bankruptcy over the course of the past 5+ years. The entire industry either has gone through, or is currently going through, a period of financial distress and reorganization,” the document continued.
The protest started with around 20 miners, posted on the track for nearly 50 hours straight — often by themselves, Jeff Willig, one of the workers who started the protest, tells TIME. Now it’s grown with the miners working in shifts of around 8-12 hours to ensure continuous coverage on the track. Members of the local community have shown their support, setting up an outdoor kitchen, providing first aid kits and bringing water and ice for the protesters. State Rep. Adam Bowling, whose district includes parts of Harlan County, has also joined the protests, the Associated Press reports.
This article first appeared on time.com
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