Miners End Blockade of CSX Coal Train in Kentucky

Although Kentucky coal miners have ended their strike, the fate of a CSX coal train they had blockaded remains uncertain.

The miners blocked the train from moving to protest losing their jobs and not being paid for work they had performed before being laid off by Blackjewel Mining.

News media reports said the miners ended the blockade of the train last week after nearly two months of picketing.

The train is at Clover Fork No. 3 mine near Cumberland in Harlan County. The miners said they had mined the coal loaded on that train but had not been paid for their work in the wake of Blackjewel filing for bankruptcy protection in July.

The miners have reported that their last paychecks bounced after the bankruptcy filing.

The 80-car train on the Poor Fork Subdivision is still at the mine. The protesting miners allowed CSX to remove the two locomotives that had been attached to the train..

A CSX spokesman told Trains magazine that it will wait before moving the train.

“At this point, CSX is awaiting the conclusion of the legal proceedings in this matter before making any determination about moving the coal,” said CSX Media Relations Director Cindy Schild.

The blockade of the train began on July 29. News reports indicate that it ended after the remaining protesting miners found jobs at other companies or began training for other trades.

The number of protesting miners at the blockade site has progressively grown smaller in recent weeks.

A federal judge in West Virginia had ruled in mid September that the Blackjewel and the U.S. Department of Labor were to enter into confidential negotiations to conclude by Oct. 1.

The Labor Department had asserted in a court filing that the coal loaded on the train was “hot goods” because it had been produced by miners who had not been paid for their work.

The filing had the effect of stopping the shipment of coal produced at Blackjewel mines for which miners had not been paid.

The protesting miners had earlier rejected an offer by the new owner of the Clover Fork mine, KopperGlo Mining, that would have paid them an average of $800 per person toward their unpaid wages. Some of the miners said they were owed more than $4,000.

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