A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Tyler White: After witnessing great injustice, Ky. coal industry stands with hard-working miners

Over the past few months we have witnessed a great injustice occur in some of our mining communities as certain bad actors have reportedly failed to pay their hard working men and women the wages they are owed.

As the president of a trade organization that represents the coal industry, I am appalled at these unethical business practices. To not pay your employees what they have earned is simply and always wrong. The companies and executives that have made the decision not to pay their coal miners should be ashamed of themselves and be held accountable.

The Kentucky Coal Association does not condone the actions of these companies, who are not members of our association and who do not represent our members and their responsible owners, executive and employees.

The immoral decision not to pay miners what they are owed cannot be chalked up to downturns in the market. Hard times are not new to our industry, or any other. In fact, we have seen many of our member companies emerge stronger after restructurings, acquisitions, and even bankruptcies, without failing in the responsibilities to their employees. It is these responsible companies that I am proud to represent.

Unfortunately, there are bad actors in every industry. But we will not let this small group of irresponsible companies define our Kentucky coal industry or distract from its historical and current importance to the Commonwealth. Kentucky coal has provided economic opportunities for over a century, and it will continue to do so for many years to come.

Kentucky coal not only provides millions in tax revenue to this state, it also provides a benefit to every Kentucky citizen in the form of affordable and reliable power.

According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2018 Kentucky had the seventh-lowest average electricity price of any state in the nation and the lowest price of any state east of the Mississippi River. This is due to the fact that the majority of our electricity is produced by coal, which gives Kentucky a competitive advantage when recruiting new industry to the state, and ensures our disadvantaged citizens and our neighbors on fixed incomes are not burdened with surging electricity prices like we see in places that have phased out the use of coal.

The Kentucky Coal Association continues to stand with the men and women who work hard every day to ensure Kentucky’s prosperity, and we stand against those who cause harm to our coal miners and their families.

Tyler White is president of the Kentucky Coal Association

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