Department of Labor awards more than $3.5 million to EKCEP for laid-off coal miners

A miner looks on as a train hauls coal away from Cloverlick Mine 1. Blackjewel miners have not been paid in almost three months. // Connor James
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WYMT) - The U.S. Department of Labor announced that an Eastern Kentucky program will receive millions to support laid-off coal miners in the area.

National Dislocated Worker Grant funding of $3,724,200 will go to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP).

The money will go toward employment and training of dislocated workers impacted by layoffs from the coal industry. This includes miners affected by the Blackjewel bankruptcy.

“The Department of Labor at the state and federal level have been instrumental in representing the Blackjewel miners since this terrible debacle began,” said Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley. “The need for critical investments like this grant to further miners’ education and training is a necessity. This goes hand in hand with work we’re doing at the local level to further diversify our economy and provide long-term sustainable employment. I appreciate Senator McConnell’s leadership in securing this funding for the adversely impacted Blackjewel miners.”

EKCEP serves nearly 500,000 people in 23 Eastern Kentucky counties.

"We are very thankful to Senator McConnell for his help to make this federal grant possible, especially at a time of such uncertainty for many Harlan County families," said Jeff Whitehead, Executive Director of the EKCEP. “These funds will be critical to our ongoing efforts to support and serve the dislocated workers in our region. We’re glad to have a partner in Senator McConnell as we help these Kentuckians return to the workforce as quickly as possible, using their skills to transfer into high demand and rapidly growing industries.”

Blackjewel's bankruptcy affected 1,100 coal workers in Central Appalachia.

“The way Blackjewel has treated these miners is shameful. These Kentuckians should be paid in full for their work. I will keep working with the Labor Department and others to support these miners,” Senator McConnell said. “From the beginning I’ve been in constant communication with the U.S. Department of Labor, urging them to do everything possible to help dislocated mine workers in Harlan. I’m grateful to Acting Secretary Pat Pizzella for answering my call and awarding National Dislocated Worker grant funding, which will provide assistance for Kentucky to help miners and their families get back on their feet.”



 
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