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Remember Those Protesting Kentucky Coal Miners?

There is a rather lengthy (surprisingly) Louisville Courier-Journal article on the plight of the laid off coal miners in Harlan County, Kentucky.  The coal mine they worked for — Blackjewel — declared bankruptcy, and the miners’ paychecks bounced.  The miners have been blocking the tracks to prevent Blackjewel from shipping out any more coal until they get paid.  It appears that the blockade is going to probably fail though for a myriad of reasons.

HARLAN, Ky. — At its peak, the coal-train blockade conducted by laid-off Kentucky miners drew more than 100 people a day.

It sparked stories in The New Yorker and Rolling Stone magazine. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sent pizzas to blockading miners. State politicians sparred over who supported the miners more.

But as the high-profile protest marks its second month, the number of miners blocking the tracks have dwindled to a handful, with often only one staying overnight. The smattering of tents and folding chairs sit mostly empty, the cornhole games, piles of donated food and coolers largely unused.

Some have left for coal mines in other states. Others are retraining as electricians or linemen.

Still more have found new jobs or have grown tired of long hot days on the track as they await settlement negotiations they hope will return the paychecks the Blackjewel coal company clawed back after it went bankrupt July 1.

The article goes into the details of how the state of Kentucky doesn’t enforce its rule about mine companies putting up a payroll bond for just this type of situation.  Supposedly, this situation shined a spotlight on the lack of union mines in Eastern KY, black lung, and workers’ rights.   And the plight of several of the individual miners is recounted.  But it appears that this is another in a long line of coal mine closings that decimates the local economy, and little to nothing is done for the unemployed miners.

Yes, I know.  What do these miners think about their good friend Donald Trump?

Miners, however, say the bankruptcy and resulting protest have done little to renew their faith in President Donald Trump’s promised coal revival or coal's long-term future in Harlan.

Emboldened is mine.

Trump, whose campaign promise to restore the coal industry to its former glory hasn’t panned out, has stayed silent, much to the dismay of miners in an area that overwhelmingly voted for him.

“It surprised me,” Rowe said. “But, you know, it is what it is. We can’t make him do anything.”

Anyway, you all might want to take a look at the article.

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