My grandfather was a coal-cutter. This meant that he worked hard labor during the midnight shift deep underground in Walker County, using tools to cut large pieces of coal so the morning crew could break it up and load it out. My father’s family depending on this income to feed their family of 10 during the great depression. I’m thankful that my grandfather had this job. It was the one of the few ‘decent paying’ jobs to be found in Walker County in the 1920’s, almost 100 years ago.
Alabama has continued to rely on coal mining jobs despite the fact that the demand for coal is going down. From The Sun-Herald:
“Employment in Alabama coal fields decreased 43 percent between 1990 and 2014, as the number of mines fell by half, said Corey Tyree, the institute’s director of energy and environment in Alabama. During that time, more than 21,000 coal-related jobs disappeared in 19 counties, costing their economies more than $1.8 billion in lost wages.”
Southern Research, utilizing a $60K grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission, plans to work with UAB to develop a strategic plan of how to put people back to work in these in areas of lost jobs. We look forward to tracking their progress!