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Teachable Moment: What Teacher Protests Portend For Schools, Labor And Elections

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When Oklahoma teacher Sally Salmons saw momentum building toward teacher protests in her state, she immediately reached out to family ties and educators in West Virginia. She said teacher walkouts in the Mountain State provided her and colleagues across the state with the courage they needed to take a stand. “We looked at West Virginia… Read More

Tariff-ic Impact: Ohio Valley Awaits Trump Decision On Steel, Aluminum

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The Ohio Valley was once synonymous with steel. Even after the industry’s sharp decline the region is still home to many industries that produce or use steel and aluminum. Those industries are closely watching what the Trump administration will do on steel and aluminum imports. The Department of Commerce has suggested a massive 24 percent global tariff on those… Read More

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