Company lays off miners after hiring them from Blackjewel

A coal producer that purchased multiple Kentucky mines and hired workers from a now-bankrupt company has laid some of the miners off

HARLAN, Ky. -- A coal producer that purchased multiple Kentucky mines and hired workers from a now-bankrupt company has laid some of the miners off.

State Rep. Angie Hatton said miners told her Friday that Kopper Glo, the company that purchased mines from Blackjewel LLC., has idled its mines until at least Dec. 26, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Many of the miners worked for Blackjewel, which over the summer laid workers off with little notice, issued them bad checks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had its Black Mountain/Lone Mountain division sold to Kopper Glo.

Miners protested and demanded their missing pay, sitting on railroad tracks and blocking coal shipments for two months. In October, under a deal with Blackjewel in U.S. District Court, nearly $5.5 million in back pay was to be issued to the miners.

Coleen Tennington, whose husband, Darrell, worked as a repairman at Kopper Glo’s Darby mine, said he was laid of Friday morning when he arrived at work.

The company told its non-salaried employees, around 100 men according to Tennington, that they would likely be re-hired after Christmas if the company could find a buyer for large coal reserves it's trying to sell.

“We thought with Kopper Glo buying that, they would have had their ducks in a row and would have had a contract lined up to buy the coal,” Tennington said. “If they don’t (find a buyer), then what?”

Joey Hall, 43, who worked at Blackjewel and now at Kopper Glo, said he hadn't heard of any layoffs Friday morning, but said it wouldn't surprise him. Hall said he and others had been working 60 hours but were recently reduced to 40 hours.

The newspaper reported that Kopper Glo has not responded to requests for comment.