HARLAN CO., Ky. (WHAS11) – Harlan County miners have been sitting on the tracks for weeks in Kentucky.
Their employer, Blackjewel Mine, put money in their bank accounts but their hard-earned paychecks bounced shortly after they were told that mine was shutting down.
"Devastating, it's killing us…we don't know what's going to happen,” Darrell, a Blackjewel miner, said.
Their sit-in prevented the coal they mined from being hauled away and sold by Blackjewel. The kindness of strangers in the form of supplies delivered to families has helped them but these proud workers just want to get back underground.
Recently, their mine was sold to another company as the bankruptcy process moves forward. Even as the process plays out in court, you have to dig deep to find hope in Harlan County.
“Well they promise you the rainbow but the only thing you get is the rain," Darrell said.
The state senator who represents Harlan County knows that stopping the coal trains was a big victory for the miners, but this battle continues to wage, now he's pushing a plan to prevent this from happening to anyone else.
“Blackjewel violated the law by not posting a performance bond, which I think a lot of people didn't realize that they had to post that bond,” Sen. Johnny Ray Turner said.
A performance bond would pay the wages of workers if a situation like this happened but Turner said there is a loophole in the current law.
On Thursday he'll pre-file a bill to close the loophole and require state agencies revoke permits of companies who don't pay. It'll impact those who've been operating within the last five years and in the future.
“But it's not something that's ever happened before, that we know of, so I guess what we're doing is we're going to try to prevent it from happening again,” Turner said.
Even if Turner's bill passes and is signed by a governor, it won't become law until sometime in 2020. It's too late for the Blackjewel miners but those still sitting on the tracks in Harlan County hope it will prevent someone else from going through what they've had to endure.