Clint's Story


Learning about the layoffs

They gave us warning for quite a while. The numbers were going down so bad that it was inevitable what happened. And they tried to keep us on, Black Thunder did. They tried to make people take mandatory days of or whatever, that’s what they’re doing now. They turned off overtime, cut down on the fly. They tried to do everything they could. 

I’ve never really felt this before. For the first couple of months, it was the worst feeling in the entire world and it’s still bad.

Not really sure how they picked us out for layoffs. Some of us been there ten years. People that got to stay been there anywhere down to a year. I don’t know.

The thing that made all of us mad was then, giving out giant bonuses to the executives before they laid people off. That pissed a lot of people off. That’s the only thing that really upset me about the mine, I see that they did what they’re thing to try and keep us, but they could have kept a hell of a lot of people for as much money as they put out to their executives.

What it's been like since the layoff

It sucks. I’ve never really felt this before. I’ve never really been out of work before. For the first couple of months, it was the worst feeling in the entire world and it’s still bad. It’s not fun having to struggle to pay your bills. I know I’ve paid my dues to get my unemployment, but still, I don’t like to rely on that stuff. I’d rather be working. It’s what we’re raised to do here in Wyoming. And we were doing just fine until this happened.

I still pay all my child support and stuff. That comes out of my unemployment check. It puts a huge damper on what other bills I can pay. But my daughter's taken care of and that’s all that matters to me. But the worst part is the health coverage that we used to have is gone now. Hopefully this will all change soon when I hopefully get hired on the mine again. But that’s been the hard part: finding a job with benefits that I absolutely need for me and the kid. That’s the biggest thing. The health benefits.

You put that many damn people out of work at once, everyone’s wrestling for the same job. And when you’re used to making $28 per hour and now you have to settle working two jobs at $12 or $15 an hour, it’s hard.

Worst thing is so many people moving. There’s just thousands of houses for sale, businesses going under. Not just here but all over Wyoming. You can definitely tell what coal funds around Wyoming. It’s just taken a hit on everybody. Lot of people making that amount of money and working those amount of hours that got themselves in way over their heads. Everybody giving up their stuff and their houses and just moving away. Lot of businesses taking a huge hit. Along with a lot of places right now from 5 until 7 or 8 o’clock, it’s just a ghost town in the restaurants. It’s getting better, it’s picking up a little bit. But it’s nothing like it was before, for sure.

Lot of us can’t leave cause we got families and kids and stuff like that. Especially us single parents. You can’t just pick up and move away otherwise, I’d have been gone a long time ago. I get my daughter part of the time and I don’t just want to move away. It took a huge hit on this community, not just coal, but oil took a giant hit. We all did, which hit this town really hard all at the same time. It’s been a crappy deal pretty much. 

Is there help available, job retraining? 

Wyoming does 'Wyoming at Work.' They kind of try to help out with stuff like that. They’ll help you with interview processes, they’ll help you with resumes, all that kind of stuff. They do a pretty good job of trying to help out least.

They could have kept a hell of a lot of people for as much money as they put out to their executives.

What do you say to coal executives making these decisions?

That’s a good one. I don’t know. We’ve seen what they can do. Take millions of dollars of bonuses and watch everybody else -- the real workers -- suffer, so … who knows? If I was one of them, I could have let my bonus go to let a few people keep their jobs, keep supporting their families.

What do you say to the president and elected leaders in Washington, DC?

We put power in people’s houses and I don’t see how they don’t see that. If it’s all environmental, I don’t know. There’s plenty of stuff out there that’s bad for the environment. It’s not like coal is ruining everything. I don’t know if they just don’t have anything better to do or what. Maybe Wyoming should just shut it down. You know the Carolinas and down south and back east, if we just shut off everyone’s power and kept the coal right here and used our own power plants, guarantee a lot of people’s eyes would be opened the hell up. 

What's next for Clint

I have an interview Monday, so that should be pretty cool. I want to get back out to the mine. I really like it out there. I like working night shifts. I like the diversity of the hours. This time I’d be a truck driver, not a mechanic. I just have always liked it out there. My dad was in the mines forever. He just retired the same time I got laid off, so we’ve been having a bit of fun. It’s been fun. Good to turn crappy thing into a positive somehow, you know what I mean?