After an announcement in December of 2019, the Western Kentucky Coal Company officially closed Genesis Mine in Centertown, permanently laying off more than 200 workers in February. The mine’s parent company, Murray Energy, owns two other mines (Midway Mine and Pride Mine) but filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October. Chapter 11 is designed to help businesses restructure their debt and create reasonable payment plans, but they are not always successful. As such, some companies have no choice but to transition from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 (liquidation bankruptcy).
Poplar Grove Mine in McLean County declared bankruptcy as well, laying off nearly 50 employees in the process. It is currently for sale.
As states begin to shift toward cheaper and cleaner energy resources, mines like Genesis Mine and Poplar Grove Mine struggle to compete. Many suffer severe financial hardship or are forced out of business. This decline results not just in massive layoffs but also in millions of lost tax dollars for communities.
Fortunately, companies and organizations are doing what they can to help newly unemployed miners. The West Kentucky Workforce Board and the Green River Workforce Board’s Rapid Response teams held two sessions at the Career Advancement Center in Central City for affected workers, distilling information about:
- Unemployment benefits
- Health insurance options
- Training resources
- Skills upgrading opportunities
On the following day, miners affected by the Poplar Grove Mine layoff attended a similar session at the McLean County Courthouse.
These meetings are part of a larger “rapid response” to the decline of the mining industry in Kentucky. 2019 experienced similar disruptions, and communities throughout the state expect to see continued hardship for both businesses and employees.
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