Laid Off Coal Miners Receive Funding for Job Retraining

LOGAN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Thousands of coal miners have lost their jobs this year. Now, there is a chance for some of them to get help when it comes to getting trained for new careers.

Mining roots run deep in southern West Virginia, but its future is about as clear as coal.

“I thought that was gonna be my retirement. I actually bought a house near the coal mine,” Robin Lusk, a laid off coal miner, said.

Lusk had worked at a mine in Boone County for seven years -- until one day in June when her life took a dramatic turn. She and dozens of coworkers were laid off.

“Sixty-six of us got it that day. It's kind of like losing your family because you work with these people all of these years,” Lusk said.

Workforce West Virginia is now stepping in to help people like Lusk get back on track.

“If you draw a line across the center of West Virginia and go south, there are over 3,000 layoffs since the first of the year,” Brett Dillon, director of the United Mine Workers Career Center, said.

At this point, only 844 laid-off miners are eligible for funding that will help them retrain for other jobs.

“A lot of miners think they can't do anything else,” Dillon said.

However, there are many jobs that a former coal miner already has skills for and could learn quickly. Dillon says there's a high demand for truck drivers, electricians, mechanics and more.

Lusk is looking for job security in the medical field.

“I'm hoping I can get a new career and start over. It's kind of rough at my age,” Lusk said.

“I'll be 40 this year and I’m starting over again,” Benjamin Moore, a laid-off miner, said.

After years underground many are now forced to start from the ground up, and more training is the foundation for supporting their families.

“I've got a kid in college and one in high school,” Lusk said.

The funding applies to dislocated coal miners and displaced homemakers with a layoff date after March 1, 2012 covered under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act Notice.

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