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Shawn's Story

 
 

Learning about the layoffs

The first time I heard about the layoffs, the company was doing an early buyout and it was catered more toward the people that were closer to retirement. They were trying to get them the extra boost to get out, so they did that. And we stuck it out, the wife and I talked about it, but we said ‘no we’ll stick it out, see what happens.’ It wasn’t two months later they gave you a letter. They still gave you the same buyout that they did for the other people which is a good thing, but there’s no rhyme or reason for what they did.

People just don’t go out anymore. It hurts everybody, it hurts everything.

I mean, there’s people who should have been laid off, but they weren’t. People who were wrote up, had one, two, three disciplinary actions taken against them, they’re still there. People that are on sickness and disability, they’re gone. But yet there are some people who are on sickness and disability and they’re still there. Seen an old boss of mine -- it’s been a while back -- talked to him and he said when he came in that day, they told him ‘Don’t even look at the roster, because you’re going to be mad,’ because, like I said, there’s no rhyme or reason for what they did. Seriously, I think what they did was they took like so many people, they took people from zero to one year, one to five, five to ten, ten to fifteen, fifteen to twenty and twenty plus, and they took a certain number from each category.

And I heard that rumor where they said they used the same computer program where they do the random drug analysis deal, that’s what they did. They used that same program and that’s how they picked people. But then I heard another story where they said some of the bosses could pick a few people of who they wanted to make sure stayed, but then that was it.

What it's been like since the layoff

You can just tell. There’s not a lot of people going out. When we do go out you can tell. It’s not like it was.

I mean, when all this stuff happened, right after school let out some 800 houses went on the market within a month. There were some who didn’t have kids and they were up and gone. It’s just … you can just tell. People just don’t go out anymore. It hurts everybody, it hurts everything. It’s not just the coal mine itself.

We don’t go out that much any more now. We used to. We don’t take trips. I dunno. The only thing that saved us is everything we have is paid for except for our house and that we’re renting, so that’s all we’re paying for, plus electricity, gas, all that stuff. But, other than that, we don’t have a forty-foot toy hauler and brand new truck and two cars and four wheelers.

Until I see benefits from government action, nobody is going to trust in it. Really, what have they done? Give me one scenario in the past six months, what have they done?

Since I was there since 2000, I was in the pension retirement program, so I still get that. But just five or six years ago, they quit doing it. So whatever you put in until that point you still get, but they’re not doing it anymore. After that, that’s about it. Insurance benefits were phenomenal. I mean, go down to Walmart to get a prescription, it’s five bucks. But I don't have any health plan now. When you got laid off they offered the COBRA plan, but that was $2000 bucks a month.

What should the coal executives and the federal government do to help?

They ain’t going to do anything, no. Why would they? What are they going to do? I just don’t see that they’re going to do anything. Until I see benefits from government action, nobody is going to trust in it. Really, what have they done? Give me one scenario in the past six months, what have they done? President Obama, these coal executives, do they even care? They say they do, but they don’t.

What's next for Shawn and his family

I would go back to a coal mine. But I won’t go back to Arch. Just because they laid you off once, what’s going to happen again? That’s just the way I feel, I won’t go back to them. I’ll go to another company. A couple friends of ours, they work at another mine, they said ‘yes, if we’re hiring, I’ll put you in for it.’ Because they’re tired of all the temps they’ve hired out there and they don’t know what the hell they’re doing. But the temps make half of what I was making. 

The only thing I got to fall back on is that I got military experience and I got construction experience before I went out there to the mine. Unless we don’t find something here pretty quick we’ll probably be moving.