Blackjewel miner joins strike of Warrior Met ‘brothers’

By Susan Lamont
May 10, 2021
Blackjewel miner joins strike of Warrior Met ‘brothers’
Militant/Susan LaMont.

MCCALLA, Ala. — I hooked up with Chris and Wendy Lewis and their son Dalton, right, at the April 21 rally here. Chris and Dalton are veterans of the 2019 fight against the Blackjewel coal bosses. Backed by their families and the community in Harlan County, Kentucky, miners forced Blackjewel, which had declared bankruptcy, to turn over the wages they were owed.

“We were two of the ‘original five,’ as they called us,” Dalton Lewis told the Militant. In addition to Dalton and Chris, miners Jeff Willig, Blake Watts and Chris Sexton decided to sit down on the railroad tracks leading into the mine that July when they learned the company planned to bring out a train filled with coal produced by their unpaid labor.

The five were soon joined by other miners, family members, independent truckers and others, who occupied the rail tracks for several months. They won broad solidarity, and at the end of October their protest succeeded in winning the unpaid wages.

Together with his father and mother, Dalton Lewis moved to Brookwood in August 2019 to get a job at Warrior Met. A few weeks after starting underground at the No. 4 mine, he was crushed between two manbuses. These vehicles run on tracks carrying miners from the elevator cages to the coal face where they are working.

Still undergoing medical treatment, Dalton Lewis, now 21, has made a remarkable recovery and his spirits are strong.

“I liked seeing all my brothers at the union rally,” Lewis said. “I’m going to fight with them: No contract, no coal!” He said he joins the picket lines whenever he can.