Senator Bernie Sanders sent 18 pizzas to a group of coal miners in Kentucky on Friday who are protesting unpaid wages after the company they worked for filed for bankruptcy. The miners have been protesting for weeks and are blocking a train that is reportedly carrying over $1 million in coal.
Local radio reporter Sydney Boles tweeted out a photo of the pizzas, noting that the 18 pizzas also equaled the number of days that the coal miners had been protesting.
— Sydney Boles (@sydneyboles) August 16, 2019
— BlackJewel Miners Blockade (@minerblockade) August 16, 2019
The miners have been protesting since July 29, and they’ve earned bipartisan support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is from Kentucky, has said that he supports the men. McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Amy McGrath, has shown up at the site to support the miners.
Blackjewel, the company that ran the mine in Cumberland, Kentucky reportedly owes $4.5 million in unpaid wages. In some cases, the workers received their checks, but the checks bounced when they tried to cash them at their banks. The coal industry in Appalachia has been declining for years as alternative forms of energy continue to become more popular and cost-effective.
As we transition to a clean energy system we cannot abandon communities that have been dependent on coal and other fossil fuels.
I stand in solidarity with the Blackjewel miners. I say to Blackjewel: Pay your workers now. https://t.co/LdoQ7XIYAX
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 2, 2019
The miners say that they learned that the company was shutting down in the middle of their shifts one afternoon. Kentucky law requires that they give a 60-day warning, but that didn’t happen either. Blackjewel operated mines in four states with over a thousand miners on their payroll, according to the New York Times.
Blackjewel’s sister company, Revelation Energy, is owed a $73,000 tax refund by the district, but local officials are pushing back on that, saying that the group owes unpaid property taxes. The Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has put a criminal investigator on the case to see if there was any wrongdoing by anybody at Blackjewel.