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Miners’ Pensions A Major Part Of Spending Debate

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Retired union coal miners are joining teamsters, iron workers and other union retirees in an effort to shore up their ailing pension plans, and they hope the ticking clock on a government spending bill will help. Some Democrats want to see protections for retirement benefits included in the omnibus spending bill, which Congress must pass… Read More

Gutting Guest Worker Rights: Migrant Labor Bill Cuts Protections

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Roberto Gonzales and six other workers came from Nayarit, Mexico, to work on a Garrard County, Kentucky, tobacco farm using a guest worker program called the H-2A visa. The Department of Labor program guarantees a wage in Kentucky of $10.92 an hour. But Gonzales said the workers were only getting between $3 and $8 per hour…. Read More

Controversial Mine Safety Nominee Faces Final Vote

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A Senate vote is scheduled for Wednesday on confirmation for President Trump’s nominee to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA. The country’s top mine safety position has been vacant since January as coal mining fatalities have risen to a two-year high. Trump’s choice to fill the post is facing opposition from congressional Democrats and… Read More

Striking Migrant Farm Workers Win Settlement

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After about three weeks on strike, a group of migrant workers employed at a tobacco farm in Gerrard County, Kentucky have reached a settlement with the farm’s owner. The workers came from Mexico under the H2A visa program, which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for temporary or seasonal farm work. The Department of Labor… Read More

On Strike: Migrant Workers On Visa Program Claim Unfair Pay

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Workers on a tobacco farm in Garrard County, Kentucky, are entering the third week of a strike over claims that they have not received the pay guaranteed by a federal work visa program. The strike is part of a movement across the South and Midwest to organize migrant laborers who enter the country legally to… Read More

Trying Times For Transit: Rural Systems Face Flat Funding And Rising Demand

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Thelma Daulton goes to the salon to get her hair done at the same time every Friday. She gets picked up at her house and greeted by one of many familiar faces from the Rural Transit Enterprises, Coordinated, or RTEC. Daulton is 95 years old and has been riding the public transit system in Somerset, Kentucky,… Read More

“Matewan” Revisited: Film Unearthed Region’s Buried Labor History

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Thirty years ago the premiere of a small-budget, independent film had an out-sized effect on how many people in Appalachian coal country thought about their region and their past. “Matewan,” directed by John Sayles, depicted a bloody chapter in the fight to organize coal miners in the 1920s, exploring themes of class struggle and pacifism in… Read More

Coal Fatalities Rise: Miner Deaths Increase Amid Low Coal Employment

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A rash of fatal coal mining accidents in the Ohio Valley region pushed the nation’s total number of mining deaths to a level not seen since 2015, sparking concern among safety advocates. Already this year 12 miners have died on the job in the U.S., compared to eight fatalities in all of 2016. Two miners… Read More

Taking Flight: Ohio Valley’s Aerospace Exports Take Top Dollars

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From the outside Summit Aviation, in the small town of Somerset, Kentucky, looks like any other nondescript, white warehouse. But inside workers craft parts for drones, weapons casings, wing stabilizers and other high-flying products. Summit is one of many small manufacturers making up the growing aerospace industry in the Ohio Valley. Highly specialized companies are… Read More

Mind The Gap: Why The ‘Wage Gap’ Still Divides Us On Payday

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McKenzie Cantrell is an employment lawyer affiliated with the Maxwell Street Legal Clinic, in Lexington, Kentucky, where she works with low-income refugees and immigrants to uncover instances of wage theft and income disparities. She travels and gives presentations about employment law, wage theft and what workers’ options are if they have problems with compensation. “Sometimes… Read More