After only two months on the job, 12 employees at the Pinnacle Prep Plant are again out of work.
Bluestone Resources, which is owned by Gov. Jim Justice’s family, purchased the Pinnacle surface properties in April.
The men were initially told on Saturday the Pinnacle plant was being idled until further notice, according to Amber Colucci, whose husband Nick was employed at the plant.
The men didn’t know if they would be eligible for low earnings slips or any other type of benefits until the plant reopened, she explained.
“You can’t get unemployment benefits if you’re idle,” she said.
The men were then told to be at the plant Monday morning and thought they would be given the low earnings slips at that time.
Instead, the men were told by the bosses to pick up all their belongings, the plant was closed, they were all being laid off, and there would be no more work.
“All of these men left good jobs to come back here to run the plant,” Colucci said.
She said her husband had worked at the operation for nearly 10 years prior to its closing in October last year and he had left a good job to return to the plant.
The men had been working five and six days a week, 10 hours a day since mid-July, she said.
“I’m upset,” she emphasized. “They’ve done the work like they were supposed to do; they were producing coal.
“They were promised the deep mine would be re-opened and 300 jobs would be created.”
The company issued a statement to several media outlets that the closing was due to a drop in the metallurgical coal market.
“That’s bull crap,” Colucci said. “The coal economy is better than it has been in several years.
“And a lot of the men used up their unemployment benefits when they were laid off before,” she said.