More than 280 jobs have been eliminated at the Chessie System's Newport News coal-loading terminal because of the nationwide strike by coal miners, which entered its eighth week yesterday.
The coal stockpile at the terminal here has dwindled to about 1,100 cars from about 3,000 when the strike began Dec. 6.
All but a handful of those will be dumped into five ships scheduled to arrive during the next two weeks, a Chessie spokesman said.
Some workers, the spokesman said, will be called back for five days to load the four ships due this week. Chessie normally employs 750 to 800 workers in its local general cargo and coal-loading operation.
The near shutdown of Eastern coal production also has hurt the Norfolk & Western Railway's coal-loading terminal in Norfolk, which has furloughed about 280 workers there and 860 in Roanoke.
Although coal from non-union mines has kept the Norfolk facility operating at 20 percent of normal, a Chessie spokesman said no non-union coal has come into the Newport News facility since the strike started.
Coal dumpings at both facilities in 1977 were far below average because of a series of wildcat miners strikes during the summer, the general strike in December and weak foreign demand.
The Newport News facility handled about 6.5 million tons of coal last year - an average of 250 to 300 cars per day - instead of the usual annual total of 10 million to 12 million tons. Most of the coal is exported to Europe and Japan for steel manufacturing.