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In this Dec. 3, 2015 file photo, The Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial is shown in Whitesville, W.Va.

WV Remembers Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster On 11th Anniversary

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RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. (OVR) — Monday marks 11 years since the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster in Raleigh County, West Virginia, where 29 miners were killed on April 5, 2010. Federal mine safety investigators determined that a buildup of methane gas and coal dust led to the explosion at the Massey Energy-owned mine. It… Read More

Miners assemble on railroad tracks to block a shipment of coal from a Blackjewel mine.

Blackjewel Bankruptcy Leaves Damaged Lands, Miners’ Compensation In Limbo

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WHITESBURG, Ky. (OVR) — The Blackjewel bankruptcy case has been ongoing since the summer of 2019 when Blackjewel, LLC abruptly collapsed, leaving over 2,000 miners in Wyoming, Kentucky and West Virginia without their jobs, their benefits, or their final paychecks. In protest, Kentucky miners spent much of that summer camped on the railroad tracks to… Read More

A union miner at the rally for pension protection.

Biden’s COVID-19 Bill Championed As A Boon For Failing Ohio Valley Pensions

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MURRAY, Ky. (OVR) — Major unions and one of their leading allies in the U.S. Senate are hailing tens of billions of dollars allocated for shoring up struggling union pension funds. The funding added to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, dubbed the Butch-Lewis Act, would provide $86 billion to dozens of failing… Read More

West Virginia teachers demonstrate for a pay increase.

Bill Would Allow Firing Of Striking West Virginia Teachers

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia state senator has renewed an attempt to punish teachers for striking in a state where work stoppages have occurred in two of the past three years. Senate Education Committee chairwoman Patricia Rucker introduced a bill Wednesday on the first day of the regular legislative session that would allow… Read More

David Pratt Jr. and Sr., right and second from right, protest former employer Blackjewel in summer 2019.

‘There’s Going To Be Something Better for Him’: Former Blackjewel Miners Reflect on Changes in Coal Country

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On a blistering August afternoon in Cumberland, Kentucky, David Pratt, Jr. stood in the middle of a two-lane highway, holding a sign that read “COAL MINERS AND TRUCKERS AGAINST CORPORATE AMERICA.” A few yards away, his father, David Pratt Sr., who is graying but still muscular, leaned back in a lawn chair perched precariously on… Read More

Miners and supporters block the railroad in Pike Co., KY

More Unpaid Appalachian Miners Stage a Coal Train Blockade

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For the second time since summer, eastern Kentucky coal miners are blockading a railroad track to protest unpaid wages. The new blockade, which was started Monday afternoon by Quest Energy miners, echoes the months-long blockade by Blackjewel coal miners over the summer and speaks to a growing discontent in Appalachian coal country. “It’s hard to go… Read More

The coal power station on the border between WV and PA

2020 Hindsight: The Ohio Valley’s Decade in Data

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The year: 2009. A Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama has just made history upon taking the presidential oath of office. The national economy is at a low point in the Great Recession. And the Pittsburgh Steelers are the first NFL team to win six Super Bowls. Ten years later, as 2019 gives way to… Read More

Retired Kentucky miner Virgil Stanley at a UMWA rally for pension protections.

Murray Energy’s Bankruptcy Could Bring Collapse of Coal Miners’ Pensions

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The recent bankruptcy of Ohio Valley coal giant Murray Energy has renewed fears about the already shaky financial foundations of the pension plan that tens of thousands of miners and their families depend upon. The seismic collapse of yet another coal employer has lawmakers from the region renewing their push to fix the United Mine Workers pension… Read More

Huntington, West Virginia skyline

Cabell County EMS Workers in Seek to Unionize

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia county’s emergency responders have announced plans to unionize. The Huntington Herald-Dispatch reports dozens of Cabell County EMS employees showed their support for the initiative at a county commission meeting on Thursday. A United Mine Workers of America representative, Floyd Conley, asked commissioners to recognize his organization as their bargaining unit…. Read More

Jacob Dyer at the Coalfield Development Corporation site.

Why Worker Training Programs Alone Won’t Save Coal Country

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Bobby Bowman mined coal in West Virginia for 12 years before his employer shut down. “I don’t think that mine will ever open again,” he said. Bowman lives in Welch, in the south of the state, where he worked at the Pinnacle Mine, which shut down almost exactly one year ago, putting him and about… Read More

Protesting miners blocked the tracks in the morning fog.

Former Blackjewel Miners End Railroad Blockade In Kentucky

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The nearly two-month blockade of a Kentucky railroad track is coming to an end as unpaid coal miners end their protest in order to take new jobs, start classes, or move away from their coal-dependent communities. When coal company Blackjewel abruptly declared bankruptcy in July, it left some 1100 Appalachian coal miners in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia without pay…. Read More

unemployment

Ohio Jobless Rate Increases Slightly from July to August

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly from July to August. State officials on Friday said the unemployment rate was 4.1% in August, compared with 4% the previous month. Ohio’s unemployment rate stood at 4.6% in August 2018. The national rate was 3.7% in August, unchanged from July, and down from… Read More

Near the scene of the miners’ protest in Harlan Co., KY.

Paychecks Cut For Some Blackjewel Miners; Others Still Wait

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West Virginia employees of coal operator Blackjewel LLC have received their final paychecks more than two months after the company declared bankruptcy on July 1. In an agreement reached last week between the Department of Labor and the company, Blackjewel cut paper checks for all owed wages to a few dozen employees working at the… Read More

In this June 6, 2011 photo, this historical marker along W.Va. Route 17 in Blair, W.Va., is the only visible sign of the 1921 battle here between thousands of armed, unionizing coal miners and the thousands of law enforcement officers and security guards hired to defeat them. At least 16 men died on the mountain

On Labor Day, Miners Mark Historic Union March

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Ninety-eight years ago, thousands of pro-union miners marched toward West Virginia’s Logan County, to protest abuses by coal operators in what was then a largely anti-union territory. The marchers were met at Blair Mountain in Logan County by an army of men, fighting on behalf of anti-union mine guards and local law enforcement. The battle… Read More

Ohio State Supreme Court building

Five State Employees File Lawsuit Against State Leaders And Unions

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Five state employees have filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming their rights have been violated by being required to pay union dues. Four employees with the Ohio Department of Transportation and one with the Ohio Department of Public Safety have filed suit against two labor unions, Gov. Mike DeWine and Department of Administrative Services Director Matt Damschroder…. Read More

The Kentucky Statehouse

Kentucky Democratic Lawmakers to Push for Minimum Wage Increase

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Two Democratic lawmakers in Kentucky say they have a proposal that would eventually more than double the state’s minimum wage. Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington and Rep. Kathy Hinkle of Louisa say they’ll introduce the measure in the House and Senate during the 2020 session. Their legislation would gradually raise the… Read More