Striking coal miners end protest on CSX tracks

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A group of coal miners in Eastern Kentucky who had blocked a coal train in protest of unpaid wages has ended its protest and cleared the tracks.
A half-dozen miners employed by Quest Energy near Pikeville, Kentucky, ended their protest against the company Wednesday evening after the company paid the miners in-full for work they’d completed over the past several weeks. The miners claimed the company had not paid them for up to three weeks-worth of work. On Monday, in protest of the non-payment, they stood in the path of a Newport News Pier Nine-bound CSX coal train which was preparing to depart from the Quest Energy mine on CSX’s Coal Run Subdivision, off the Big Sandy Subdivision, near Pikeville, at which they were employed.
The miners said throughout the protest that once they were paid in-full, they would clear the tracks. They did so Wednesday when their payments came through.
“We said all along that all we wanted was our money, and once we got that, they could have their train,” said one of the miners who spoke on a condition his name not be published.
The protest was similar to that of coal miners who blocked a train from leaving a Blackjewel Mining complex in Harlan County last summer. Like the Blackjewel protest, the Quest miners allowed CSX to retrieve its locomotives off the train. The Quest miners said local CSX employees were supportive of their efforts, and the railroad made no efforts throughout the protest to attempt to force the miners to leave its tracks.
Quest parent company American Resources Corporation acknowledged that issues had resulted in miners’ paychecks being delayed. An official with the company apologized and said the protesting miners would not lose their jobs over taking action to block the train.
The conclusion of the protest on Wednesday followed a tense confrontation between the protesting miners and some of their co-workers. Wednesday morning, about 40 Quest employees and managers walked to the protest site and confronted their demonstrating co-workers in an attempt to convince them to leave the area and release the train. Kentucky State Police responded and broke up the confrontation, which never escalated to violence. CSX Railroad Police was also at the scene.
The train the miners blocked consisted of 120 hoppers of metallurgical coal, which is used in the production of steel. The miners said 100 cars on the train was loaded with Quest-produced coal, while 20 cars were loaded with coal produced at a mining operation not affiliated with Quest Energy or American Resources Corporation.

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