Several trucking companies returned to work on Tuesday at the Justice-Southern Coal Corporation owned Liggett No. 8 and No. 9 mines in Catrons Creek after striking for non-payment of wages on Monday.
Receiving only a small portion of their wages owed, some truckers returned “in order to keep a job.”
Coal truck drivers for SAD, Case, Sayco and Liggett company vehicles began hauling coal early Tuesday morning.
Other trucking companies chose not to return on Tuesday.
One truck driver, declining to give his name, said that with payments combined, approximately a half million dollars was owed to trucking companies in Harlan County since November.
He said the company originally agreed to pay truckers every two weeks, but had only been paying every three to four weeks for a small portion of their loads.
In addition to the truckers, various vendors in the county are in need of payments for supplies and services as well.
Mark Miracle, owner of Dynatech Electronics at Baxter, said he is owed more than $100,000 by the Justice Corporation. His business supplies mining electrical parts and repairs to the mines.
“I hesitated taking legal action, but it looks like I have no other choice but to proceed in that direction,” said Miracle. “I know how the truckers feel not getting their money. We can’t take promises to the grocery store.”
Another trucker said he was told Todd Case, owner of Case Trucking of Louisa, had traveled to Roanoke, Va., to the company headquarters on Tuesday to speak with owners of the mines. He said he was also told if truckers didn’t return to work the mine would be shut down and no one would have a job.
“There are no jobs in Harlan County and I have to work to make a living for my family,” said one driver. “That’s why I am running coal today. I’m just hoping the company will pay us all they owe us instead of just a little here and there.”
The Justice family, which includes Jim Justice and his son Jay Justice, own the No. 8 and No. 9 mines at Catrons Creek where approximately 75 coal miners are employed. They acquired the Sequoia Energy operation at Liggett in May 2007 from Gerald Burleson and Stanley Ditty.
The Justice family owns mining operations in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. In November, the company said it expected to produce 9 million tons of coal this year.
Efforts to contact Justice and Liggett officials at the local site and attempts to speak to someone at the company’s corporate headquarters were unsuccessful. Calls were not returned.
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