Coal miners who worked in three eastern Kentucky counties are looking for new jobs tonight.
Officials with Miller Brothers Mining say they were forced to lay off 85 employees yesterday from sites in Magoffin, Floyd, and Knott Counties. The company is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy right now, and is reducing production at several mine sites.
The work day ends around 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at Miller Brothers Coal, but this Monday ended a little different than usual. At the end of the shift, 85 workers lost their jobs.
"Just the way everything's been going, we saw it coming, just didn't know when," laid-off worker Mike Skaggs said.
Even though he could sense it, Skaggs said the layoffs were still devastating, even for the boss.
"You could tell it destroyed him. You know because it's kinda like a family on jobs like that," Skaggs said.
Most of the laid-off workers went to the Prestonsburg employment office to collect unemployment checks and start the job search.
"Go in here, write my name on a piece of paper and see if I can get a check. That's the only thing I know to do until I find a job," laid-off worker Randall Vanhoose said.
"Go work somewhere else, doing the same thing. It's pretty much a lot of us, it's the only thing we've ever done," Skaggs said.
Hours were reduced for the remaining employees, which Vanhoose says is not enough to support his family.
"In a way it was good news too. Because you can't quit, but you can't live off of 33 hours either. So if you quit, you wouldn't get unemployment," Vanhoose said.
"I don't know what to expect. Got bills to pay, just gotta work thru it," Skaggs said.
Vanhoose said he already has one job prospect, but says he wants to be careful so he doesn't face unemployment again any time soon. Miller Brothers officials say the layoffs were in response to weak demand for coal and the uncertainty of issuance of new mining permits.
They add more than 200 workers are still employed by the company in eastern Kentucky. Officals say they are committed to keep mining and supplying customers with coal while under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.