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Call it a Kentucky Tea Party. Something similar to the historic Boston protest could be happening again, only instead of it being a revolt over taxes it’s over bankruptcy and bounced paychecks.

Miners due their pay in Harlan County, Kentucky are holding a coal train hostage until the owner shows them the money.

Blackjewel LLC wrote 350 bad checks to pay their miners, just as they were crashing into bankruptcy. “We’re not out here trying to get more than what we’ve earned,” miner Chris Rowe, one of the original demonstrators said to CBS news.

Six out of work miners started the blockade in a remote part of the Appalachians last Monday, holding about a million dollars worth of coal hostage. The camp has grown as churches, politicians and the community join in. The area has been torn apart by Barack Obama’s strangling regulatory policies.

Blackjewel has a bankruptcy hearing coming up soon in West Virginia. The Louisville Courier Journal reported many miners are boarding buses to attend that hearing.

The protesters were gracious enough to allow a third party company to retrieve their locomotive. The tracks were briefly cleared long enough for the engine to drive off, but almost 100 cars filled with coal are staying put until the miners are paid.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Blackjewel issued paychecks June 28, three days before declaring bankruptcy. It didn’t have cash to cover payroll, but requested approval for a loan that would have covered the checks on July 1. They didn’t get it. When the approval didn’t go through, everything crashed.

According to state law, Blackjewel was supposed to have posted a performance bond, but that was never done. It would have guaranteed the miner’s pay.

Republican governor Matt Bevin met with the demonstrators on Saturday, encouraging people to help. Two local non-profits are also helping out.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed Blackjewel’s actions as “shameful and outrageous.” He declared that “the company needs to be held accountable for its horrific management.”

His rival, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amy McGrath is also on the side of the workers. she brought fried chicken to the protestors.

Some of the miners were also upset that Blackjewel wasn’t honoring 401K obligations even though the money was withheld from paychecks. Payroll information has been subpoenaed and the Department of Labor is looking into the retirement accounts.

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Blackjewel’s assets were put on the auction block Thursday, although creditors are more likely to see funds before the miners do. Requests by media have gone unanswered although the former CEO sent a letter to employees: “I accept responsibility for being unable to lead this company through these difficult times.”

Blackjewel is at least the fifth coal company to become insolvent just this year.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below.


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