‘No Pay We Stay,’ Kentucky Miners Declare

Labor News

Scott Olson / Getty Images Blackjewel coal miner Chris Lewis joins a blockade August 8 to prevent a shipment of coal from moving on railroad tracks near Cumberland, Kentucky.

Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by Campbell Robertson on August 19, 2019.

A little after 4 p.m. Friday, four hulking big-rig cabs, facing each other in pairs and taking up both lanes, brought the Kingdom Come Parkway to a standstill. On the highway between the trucks, eight out-of-work coal miners raised a banner: “No Pay We Stay.”

That is the miners’ plan in its entirety, and for close to three weeks, that is what they have done.

A protest that began with five men blocking a train full of coal has grown into a small 24-hour tent city along railroad tracks next to the highway. It has become a pilgrimage site for labor activists, a rallying point for the community — “a tailgate party on steroids,” as one local official approvingly put it. And it is the first organized miners’ protest that anyone can remember for decades in Harlan County, Kentucky, a place once virtually synonymous with bloody labor wars. …

SF Chronicle 8/19

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About Jeffrey Burman 5209 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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