Update: Pike County miners received paychecks, will let Quest Energy take coal

Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 12:41 PM EST
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Updated 6:00 p.m.

Pike County miners are packing up the blockade camp at the railroad tracks in Kimper after three days of protesting.

Two groups of miners, both working for Quest Energy, met at the tracks Wednesday. One group insisted they would not leave until they were guaranteed their next paycheck.

"If a man's word ain't no good, he ain't no good. You don't tell these men, 'payday will be there Friday for sure.' Just to get them to come out and work, to slave for you is what it is," said Jennifer Blackburn, the wife of one of the miners. "And then 'payday will be here Saturday for sure, boys, I'm sorry.'"

The other group wanted the protesters to let the 120 train cars full of coal pass through.

"They've always paid. You know, the checks might've been late one or two days," said Tommy Howard. "The only reason we're here, we all want to go back to work. I mean, enough of this nonsense. Let's get back to work. Let's go mine coal."

There was a heated exchange between the men, the railroad tracks acting as a dividing line between the groups until eventually, the two sides came to an agreement.

"I have not one bit hard feelings against those guys. The only thing I want is to go to work. I mean, you can see the march of 50 men that came over. I mean, right there's the face of men that's got families," Howard added.

The remaining five miners said it took stopping a train to get their last paychecks, and they were afraid to leave before getting Friday's paychecks.

"'Cause that's all we ever wanted. We didn't want any of this. Listen, I've been here for three days. I would much rather be home in my nice, warm bed, than standing here," Blackburn said.

The company issued the Friday checks early and told the men they would see the funds by the end of the business day Wednesday. Once the miners saw the funds in their bank accounts, they agreed to pack up camp and let the company take its coal.

12:45 p.m.

It is day three of the Pike County miners protest in Kimper and not all of the miners who work for Quest Energy support the blockade.

By Wednesday morning, all the miners had two weeks of pay in their bank accounts. But some of the miners said they were missing holiday pay and overtime.

A few of the miners told WYMT they were worried that if they left the tracks now, they would not get their next paycheck either, which is due Friday.

Later this morning, another group of Pike County miners showed up at the tracks - not to join the protest, but to call for its end. The other miners offered to pool their own money to pay the protesters, saying they all just want to go back to work.

Lisa Little, treasurer for Quest Energy, arrived at the tracks and said she would post the miners' next checks this day, complete with the missing overtime and holiday pay.

The protesting miners said they now see the new paystubs, but still will not leave until they see the money in their accounts. If it does appear, however, they agreed to leave.

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