To reduce miners' financial burden, a former coal magnate has donated over $ 1 million to directly assist these miners and their families.
On Monday, the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation donated over $ 1 million to send 508 blackjewel miners in dire need of $ 2,000 each. Community aid groups in the counties of Harlan and Letcher in Kentucky and Wise County, Virginia, checks were issued.
Blackjewel LLC filed for bankruptcy on July 1, and thousands of miners in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia were out of work and refuge. & # 39; not paid since. The co-contractor owes his 1,700 miners about $ 5 million in arrears, according to lawyer Joe Childers, whose company represents miners in litigation with the employer.
CNN could not reach Blackjewel LLC for comment.
The communities in Central Appalachia have gathered around the miners and their families during a financial crisis that began without warning. As part of fundraising campaigns, local groups in the region created databases that store much-needed data. Every miner on these lists will receive a check for $ 2,000 from the foundation on Friday.
This news arrives on the same day that a lawsuit has been brought before the Federal Bankruptcy Court in West Virginia, where a judge is to authorize the sale of Blackjewel mining equipment, which was sold in an auction from 1 to 3 August. The additional payment complicates the litigation, since the money would flow at an auction by law before other unsecured creditors to the miners.
"The best man I've ever worked for"
Brandon Pearson, 27, is one of the Blackjewel employees who have been on duty for several hours to block the railroad. At the age of 18, Pearson worked for the first time in coal mining for Richard Gilliam. In fact, many of the miners worked in blackjewel mines for Gilliam.
"Richard Gilliam, he's the best man I've ever worked for," Pearson told CNN on a West Virginia bus, where miners gathered to protest Blackjewel in court during the bankruptcy hearing.
Pearson never met Richard Gilliam, but says the management had some kind of communication with employees that "made them feel they knew him personally."
Richard Gilliam grew up in coal mining and started his business there. "When he heard of the financial crisis, he felt sad and his heart went to them," said Julia Gilliam Sterling, Gilliam's daughter, who works for the Family Foundation, to CNN.
In 2010, when Richard Gilliam sold his coal company Cumberland Resources Corporation and its affiliates for $ 960 million, he founded the foundation with his deceased wife and invested $ 100 million in the foundation. Another $ 80 million of these sales profits went directly to the employees he left behind. Approximately 500 employees received $ 4,300 for each year they worked for Gilliam and an additional contribution of $ 401k.
"He values these employees and everything they have done for him very much, and they have been a major part of his personal success, and his hope is that this will spur others on the business and encourage them to help those who are have made them successful. " Gilliam Sterling vs. CNN.
Since the coal company's sale, Richard Gilliam has been managing a family investment firm and serving as director of its foundation.
Sarah Jorgensen and Polo Sandoval contributed to this report.