A group of Kentucky coal miners and their families stood on top of railroad tracks Monday and blocked a train hauling a large shipment of coal after they claimed that they were never paid for nearly a month’s worth of work, according to reports.
The miners, who work for Quest Energy in Pike County, claim they had worked since Dec. 16 without being paid. About 50 miners employed at the mine are owed for three weeks of work, the group at the track in Kimper told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“They won’t get their coal until we’re paid,” Kenny Collins, who operates a shuttle car at the underground mine, said. He said his power was cut off Monday, and he is owed more than $3,000.
Some claimed that they worked a 17-hour shift Thursday, expecting to receive a paycheck Friday, but the check never came, WYMT-TV reported. They said the mine then told them they would be paid Monday but the date was pushed back again.
The American Resources Corporation, which owns Quest Energy, issued a statement about the delay in workers’ pay but also refuted some of the protesters’ claims.
“Some of the employees are behind 8 days and some 1 day on their payday. They will all be paid as we don’t take this lightly. They have been paid since the 16th, so we are not sure where that number is coming from,” the statement said.
“We do not work men 17 hours as stated. We work a very normal mining schedule. We value the employees greatly for their work and their future work. Given challenging markets we are focused on ensuring the longevity of the employment for all the men and women of our organization.”
The company did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.
Miners last summer in Harlan County held a similar protest when Blackjewel filed bankruptcy. The miners eventually were given a deal to be paid and let the train pass.
After this Fox News story was published, American Resources Corporation responded in an email Tuesday night with an updated statement:
"All the employees have been paid what they are owed. Unfortunately what they are demanding now is ransom and spreading lies at the expense of all of the rest of our amazing employees, which have reached out with great support for the company and their jobs. Its unfortunate the lies that are being spread by them as it could cost all the rest of our 200+ employees future employment in an already challenged industry. We pray for the rest of our employees and hope these few people understand their actions may put the rest of these hard working men and women out of work."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.