$3.7 million grant helps 450 Blackjewel miners go back to school

Published: Oct. 1, 2019 at 5:31 PM EDT
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Blackjewel miners packed up their protest site, but they are still waiting for their money after their last paychecks from the bankrupt company bounced three months ago.

Many of the miners have gone back to school for free with help from Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP).

The Department of Labor gave the organization $3.7 million through funding from the National Dislocated Worker Grant.

This money will help laid-off miners and their spouses train in a new field. Many of the miners are choosing expedited short term training in jobs such as machinists, linemen, and truckers.

"They are a little unsure of themselves at first. Many of them, not all of them, but what we have proven over and over again is that once these guys are given the opportunity and given training they flourish and do really, really well," said EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead.

Whitehead says miners are not always aware of their services, and it can be hard to get in contact with them, but this was not the case with Blackjewel miners.

"In that process of pulling miners together in community, we tapped into that and so we were able to be at the table when they were receiving some of the help that they got and connected with them there," said Whitehead.

More than 450 Blackjewel miners have enrolled for training. 100 of them have already gone back to school.

The grant is not just for Blackjewel miners, but for any miner that has been laid off in the region.