State Offering Support to Gillette Workers
Written by Andrew-Rossi on July 9, 2019
Governor Mark Gordon says the state will do what it can to help coal mine employees who found themselves locked out of their jobs last Tuesday.
The West Virginia-based Blackjewel LLC has 580 employees at two open-pit mines in northeastern Wyoming, Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 1.
Gordon, who spent time in both Cody and Gillette on the 4th of July, says representatives from the state converged on Gillette last Tuesday to offer their resources to the workers who were laid off with no warning. Representatives from WCDA, Workforce Services, Homeland Security and other agencies were on hand to assist.
Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King said she is hoping for the best because losing the Blackjewel jobs would be a blow. The city’s population dipped by about 2,000 during a 2016 coal downturn as people left for work elsewhere. The U.S. Census lists Gillette’s population at about 32,000.
Republican state Sen. Michael Von Flatern of Gillette said he hopes the coal industry’s problems spur the Legislature to change the way mines are required to pay county taxes. Campbell County, which includes Gillette, could be out at least $52 million after two coal company bankruptcies this year.