Blackjewel miners vow to stay at the tracks after court order for a evidentiary hearing

Published: Aug. 23, 2019 at 12:56 PM EDT
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Lawyers for the Department of Labor (DOL) and Blackjewel met in Charleston West Virginia Friday morning, this time to argue their stance on coal sitting on Harlan County rails.

The judge ultimately called for an evidentiary hearing in 10 to 14 days to determine the coal's fate.

Ned Pillersdorf, an attorney representing the Blackjewel miners, says overall it was a good day for the miners.

"The good news is that Blackjewel didn't get the right to move the coal without paying the miners"

Weeks ago unpaid miners blocked the movement of thousands of tons of coal. Since then they have set up a tent city to fight the company who owes them weeks of pay.

Chris Rowe, Former Blackjewel miner, says he spent his morning waiting for the hearing.

"Anticipating an answer. Hopefully the one that we wanted unfortunetely it wasn't."

Donna Raleigh, the wife of a Blackjewel miner, says it is taking a toll on her and her husband.

"It's kind of a little nervous because we don't know if there is going to be anything good come out," said Raleigh. "We couldn't sleep last night know what's going to go on today."

About one month ago the DOL filed a proposed order. Its lawyers argued, "the coal is considered 'hot goods' and should be prevented from being transported or transferred in interstate commerce until these workers have been paid in accordance with the FLSA". The FSLA references the Fair Labor Standards Act which requires Blackjewel to pay the miners for their work mining and processing the coal.

Lawyers for Blackjewel said during the hearing the coal is deteriorating and losing its worth. Eventually, they claim BJMS will no longer want the coal if its worth declines to a certain point.

As for the position of the DOL, until the miners are paid backed wages the coal will remain labeled as "hot goods".

Darrell Raleigh, a Blackjewel miner, says there is just one thing he wants.

"We are wanting our money not just partial. We want our money. The money that's owed to us," said Raleigh. "We are going to be here that's a fact. We are not going to move."

Miners have vowed no matter the ruling they will remain at the protest location.

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