Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (I-Vt.), a 2020 White House hopeful, sent 18 pizzas to Kentucky coal miners protesting unpaid wages, one for every day the miners have demonstrated, according to a local radio station.
Vice noted that miners whose paychecks bounced when Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy have blockaded a train carrying more than $1 million in the company’s coal since late July. Dozens of people have joined the standoff, which initially comprised five men, the news outlet added.
Blackjewel reportedly owes an estimated $4.5 million in back pay, and miners said the demonstration is intended to make sure the money from the sale of the coal is paid to them before their former employer’s creditors.
President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE froze the coal shipment on Aug. 5 under an Obama-era measure his administration previously tried to rescind, according to Vice.
State and national politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for the miners, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and Amy McGrath, one of several Bluegrass State Democrats challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE (R-Ky.)
Chris Lewis, one of the miners, said several pizza orders had been called in from out of state, telling NPR “we’ve been supported well.”
Lewis added that a tentative deal to sell the mine and set aside money for back pay was a “step in the right direction,” but would likely only cover up to 40 percent of the wages workers are owed.
“In Harlan, Ky., we stand up for what we believe is right. That's been embedded in us from childhood up. You know, coal miners is brotherhoods. And we got a whole lot hanging in the balance here that we won't back down,” Lewis added.
The southeastern Kentucky county has been the site of several labor conflicts related to the mining industry, including a Depression-era standoff between the United Mine Workers and mine owners that led to at least five deaths. A 1970s strike involving workers at Duke Energy became the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary “Harlan County, USA.”