'They took our livelihood': Local miners meet after finding themselves without jobs, paychecks

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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Last week we learned of the abrupt actions of Blackjewel LLC when the company filed for bankruptcy protection. In the days to follow, mines shut down and hundreds of miners found themselves without jobs and paychecks.

Blackjewel miners' checks bounced and are now going on nearly three weeks of unpaid wages. Wednesday, Letcher County held a meeting to help the miners get back on their feet and show them how to pursue legal action.

Booths were set up to help miners with everything from medical prescriptions to finding new jobs.

"About everybody I talked to is gonna talk with them about legal action and try and get what rightfully is ours. You know, what's owed to us. We don't want nothing we didn't work for, but we want what's owed us," said Josh Holbrook, one of the many miners who has not been paid in three weeks.

He said he's out nearly $4,000 from his three weeks of work without pay.

"I'm just gonna trust in the Lord, just try to help other people out. I don't know what to do about employment, I'm gonna seek employment like everybody else," he added. "Well I just mean we don't know how we're gonna pay our bills, I mean where food is coming from right now, you know I mean because you know they took our livelihood from us."

Recently, Governor Matt Bevin said the Labor Cabinet is investigating the unpaid wages. Attorney General Andy Beshear also said he will use his power to find answers.

Communities came together to support the miners. Multiple organizations are collecting food, money and other necessities. To see some of the ways to get help or to contribute, click here.

Harlan County's Judge Executive, Dan Mosley, posted this update on his Facebook following the meeting.

Officials say there is help out there for these miners.

"The can go to their career centers and they can get help with finding a job, doing job searches if they wanna just look for another job. They can also help them with different training programs," said Bridget Back, with Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program.

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