Deadlines Approach For Out-Of-Work Blackjewel Employees

Jul 22, 2019

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Credit Vikki Strande/Facebook

Blackjewel employees in Wyoming could soon miss their second payday; it's approaching quickly on July 26. The recently bankrupt coal company has already passed one payday on July 12 since filing for Chapter 11 reorganization on the first of July.

The company has twice secured short-term funding, though never enough to fully reopen its two mines: Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr. It's still negotiating a long-term debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing plan. This past Friday, the West Virginia bankruptcy court overseeing the case authorized another $2.9 million. A letter sent to employees said the majority of those funds will be used to extend health insurance and workers compensation policies but only until July 31, 2019.

"Our goal, of course, is to continue providing these plans for as long as possible," the letter reads.

The funds in employees' health savings accounts are currently safe as are funds in everyone's 401(k). Management added in the letter, "we are aware that certain amounts due prior to the filing were not paid as of the time Blackjewel filed for Chapter 11 protection. We are currently reviewing this situation with the hope of bringing the 401(k) payments up to date as of the filing."

Since the company's filing, Brandy Elder, Blackjewel Human Resources manager, said about 75 people have found jobs elsewhere. She added that's a rough estimate given many likely haven't informed the company yet.

It's not yet clear when the skeleton crew operating Blackjewel's two mines will get paid and with what funds.