Remembrance of Harlan’s Valiant Workers’ Insurrection

By Colby T.

In the light of Labor Day, a holiday in celebration of the worker, I would like to remember the valiant efforts of the men of the 2019 Harlan County coal miners’ protest. These five men rallied for their beliefs against the company they worked for, which shortcutted them during a time of financial bankruptcy, known as Blackjewel.

On Monday, July 29th – a vigilant resident near the closed Blackjewel Cloverlick Mine No. 3 alerted a small group of furlough miners to be named: Dalton Lewis, Chris Sexton, Dakota Shepherd, Blake Watts, and Jeff Willig of a train being loaded with Coal.

With peaceful intentions, they held the train to attempt to speak with the leadership while it was loaded. In an attempt to prevent the disgruntled workers from holding the train any longer, the security guards on site alerted the Kentucky State Police to their presence. After being forced off the tracks, the five workers moved further down. There, they were joined by several dozen disgruntled miners and families in a human chain to prevent the train from leaving the Cloverlick Mine while preparing for the long haul by bringing tents and supplies to sustain them for an extended period of time.

The next day, the miners and their families were joined by over a hundred protesters, including retired UMWA (United Mine Workers of America Union) miners, government officials, politicians, and activists. The demands of the protestors were not met until October, but this shining example of workers and activists is an example we should all follow; a United Front against corporate corruption!

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