A former coal baron is donating $1 million to miners protesting in Kentucky after their employer went bankrupt and their paychecks bounced.

Ex-Cumberland Resources founder Richard Gilliam said he will give $2,000 apiece to 508 workers waiting to be paid by Blackjewel LLC. Gilliam, who started a charitable foundation with his late wife in 2010 after selling Cumberland, said in an emailed statement that he hopes the money "will act as a bridge" for the miners until they're paid.

It's the latest in a string of breaks for the miners, who for more than a week have blocked tracks near Cumberland, Kentucky, to prevent a train load of coal from leaving a Blackjewel mine. On Monday, the company said it would set aside revenue until the workers are paid. Last week, Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. miner, said it had hired 30 of them.

The fate of employees is playing a bigger role in corporate bankruptcies as thousands of workers lose their jobs. The issue has been embraced by some politicians and at least one presidential candidate. Dismissals caused by the collapse of Toys "R" Us Inc. triggered the initial uproar, and saving jobs became a key factor in keeping Sears Holdings out of liquidation.

In Kentucky, national news outlets have chronicled the plight of the miners and their protest. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have both expressed support for the workers.

On Monday, an attorney representing Blackjewel said during a hearing in Charleston, West Virginia, that the company will hold some of the proceeds from the sale of coal in Harlan County, Kentucky, until workers there are paid. The move comes after Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella asked the court to halt the movement of coal from the mine until workers get June wages.

Blackjewel violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying miners for work done in June, making the approximately 100 train cars loaded with coal and sitting in Harlan County "hot goods," attorneys for the labor department wrote in a motion filed Monday morning.