FRANKFORT — The Labor Cabinet will open an investigation into the coal company Blackjewel LLC regarding reports of unpaid wages for coal miners in eastern Kentucky, according to Gov. Matt Bevin.
The Labor Cabinet will investigate the company’s reported failure to pay employees for time worked. According to complaints received already by the Labor Cabinet, Blackjewel, an affiliate of Revelation Energy LLC, issued paychecks to employees that “bounced” or could not be cashed.
“We will use every available tool within Kentucky’s statutory authority to help our hard-working miners and their families receive financial restitution,” Bevin said. “While this will not likely yield an overnight fix, I am confident that the Labor Cabinet will undertake a thorough investigation and determine the appropriate best path forward.”
Workers who believe they have not received full wages due to Blackjewel’s closing are encouraged to immediately contact the Labor Cabinet’s Division of Wages and Hours at (502) 564-3534. Representatives from the Division, who have already had direct contact with a number of affected employees, will be onsite this week in Harlan and Letcher counties to provide additional information to employees.
“The Labor Cabinet takes this issue very seriously, and we will make every effort to fully investigate and, if necessary, prosecute these claims on behalf of Kentucky’s coal miners,” said Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson.
Under provisions of state law, the Secretary of the Labor Cabinet has the authority to “investigate and ascertain the wages of all employees employed in the state.”
"Many of our eastern Kentucky coal miners have been done wrong,” said Harlan County Judge/Executive Dan Mosley. “They've been placed in an unacceptable financial situation by this company."
“Our coal miners have formed the backbone of Letcher County’s economy for decades and they deserve to be compensated for the work they do,” said Letcher County Judge/Executive Terry Adams. “The office of the Letcher County Judge/Executive stands ready to work with our region’s agencies to help provide the much-needed services and support to help our miners and their families during this difficult time.”
The Labor Cabinet’s Division of Wages and Hours is responsible for the administration and enforcement of Kentucky’s minimum wage, overtime, wage payment, child labor, wage discrimination, and the equal opportunities provisions. The Division is charged with investigating allegations of statute and regulation violations and rendering findings in a timely and efficient manner.
Last week, Attorney General Andy Beshear said, “My office has received numerous troubling complaints related to the Blackjewel mining company ranging from clawed back paychecks to child support issues.”
Beshear said he has “instructed my office to use all of its powers and resources to seek answers for those who have been harmed. No Kentuckian should put in an honest day’s work only to have their paycheck taken away and their livelihood disrupted.”