Mtn. Talk: A Night on the Tracks with the Blackjewel Miners Blockade
On July 1st, 2019 the coal company Blackjewel declared bankruptcy. In the middle of their shift, miners were told to stop working. Blackjewel employed over a thousand miners across the Appalachian coalfields, who soon discovered that their last paycheck had bounced and their insurance policies had been cut off.
On July 29th, in Cumberland, Kentucky, dozens of miners began protesting by blocking the tracks in front of a Blackjewel coal train. The company’s CEO, Jeff Hoops, was almost immediately fired by court-order, but as of August 12th – the air date of this episode of Mountain Talk – miners had still not been compensated and were entering their third week of protest at the blockade.
WMMT reporter Benny Becker, arrived at the railroad tracks at 7 PM on the strike’s second day – July 30th, 2019 – and recorded throughout the night.
Benny Becker is a reporter with WMMT and the Ohio Valley ReSource. His reporting is supported by a Harvard University Abrams Nieman Fellowship.