Trump Administration Uses Previously Derided Obama-Era Measure to Help Coal Miners

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Trump Administration Uses Previously Derided Obama-Era Measure to Help Coal Miners

Today marks the 12th day {that a} group of laid off Kentucky miners have efficiently blocked a prepare loaded with $1 million in coal of their battle for owed again pay.

Beginning on July 29, about 50 or so miners created an encampment on the prepare tracks in Cumberland, Kentucky, to stop a prepare carrying $1 million price of coal from crossing. Carrying indicators that learn “no pay, we stay,” the miners, and in some circumstances their households, had been protesting their former employer, Blackjewel LLC. The firm declared chapter in early July after which wrote unhealthy paychecks to about 350 staff in Harlan County alone.

The group was by no means formally laid off by Blackjewel and so they now discover themselves in a bizarre authorized center floor: they do not have healthcare, they cannot file for unemployment and so they cannot use their 401ks as a result of they have not formally give up their jobs. Joe Childers, an lawyer for the group told CNN that Blackjewel owed 1,700 miners about $5 million in again pay, that is practically $3,000 per miner.

On Tuesday Kopper Glo, a Knoxville coal firm making an attempt to purchase a few of Blackjewel’s Kentucky belongings, agreed to put aside $1 million for miner backpay, about one-fifth of what is owed. Federal chapter Judge Frank Volk in the meantime, mentioned he needed the prepare to remain put whereas they work out the miner’s pay. “Sometimes you can make a very powerful statement without speaking at all,” he mentioned.

Coal miners had additionally appealed to Donald Trump, who campaigned on his capacity to deliver again coal jobs, asking the president for assist.

And it labored. In a stunning flip of occasions, the president’s administration used a controversial Obama-era measure known as “hot goods,” which permits the Labor Department to freeze the motion of things created by laborers who haven’t been paid.

Trump Administration Uses Previously Derided Obama-Era Measure to Help Coal Miners
Trains carry coal by means of Kentucky, Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty

“I think that’s a particularly good use of the hot goods provision—when they’re trying to make sure that whatever resources are available to the employer are used to pay people that produced the goods and make them whole,” Michael Hancock, a former Labor Department official advised Bloomberg Law. “DOL is very careful in its use of hot goods; it doesn’t use them unless there’s some good and compelling reason.”

The tactic, formally filed by Acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella on Monday, was one which the Trump administration had beforehand tried to eradicate or, on the very least, quell.

Earlier this yr, Cheryl Stanton, who was Trump’s decide to steer the division’s wage and hour division, wrote in an e-mail to staff that they may not train any orders for warm items. She mentioned that any authority her workers as soon as had to take action was now revoked.

“It is a major irony that not only is the Trump Labor Department embracing the use of hot goods now, but people like Senator McConnell are coming out so strongly in its support, when our very careful use of it in the Obama administration was pilloried by the entire Republican establishment,” David Weil, the previous Obama wage-hour chief advised Bloomberg.

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