TUCSON, Ariz. — Workers in Mexico are “standing strong” with the 1,500 copper miners on strike against multinational giant ASARCO corporation, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson told a Sept. 29 rally here. Two hundred supporters at the rally included representatives of most local and state unions, elected officials, Jobs with Justice and campus groups from the University of Arizona.

Anger is growing in Southern Arizona against ASARCO and its parent company, Grupo Mexico, who have made it clear they intend to bring in scabs to replace strikers and bust the copper unions, which have been on strike since July 2.

It is “vitally important that we as a community stand with our striking brothers and sisters. It’s their fight that brings us the lifestyle that we want our children to enjoy,” Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the immigrant rights group, Derechos Humanos, and herself the daughter of a copper miner, told the rally.

The Ministerial Alliance, a predominantly African American group, is “very much in harmony” with this effort and “stands with working people,” said the Rev. Elwood McDowell of Trinity Baptist Church. Environmentalists support copper miners because workers are often the ones to blow the whistle when “corporate fat cats are letting pollution out into the communities,” declared Daniel Paterson from the Center for Biological Diversity.

The local Food Not Bombs group donated food for the strikers.

Chavez-Thompson told the rally that she had met with the Mexican National Union of Mine, Metallurgical and Allied Workers, and that “Anything they can do … in Mexico, they’re going to do on your behalf.” She told the World that international solidarity between unions is “the only way we’re going to be able to survive.”

Reached by phone for comment the following day, Jose Angel Rocha Perez, a leader of the Mexican union, told the World he hopes that one day the strong solidarity between miners in the U.S. and miners in Mexico will be seen on a global scale.

After the rally, protesters went to ASARCO’s Tucson headquarters to deliver a giant invitation to CEO Daniel Tellechea to attend an Oct. 10 town hall meeting at 7 p.m. at the First Christian Church.

ASARCO has filed for Chapter 11 protection in bankruptcy court and has stopped disability pension checks to 117 workers, many of who were injured on the job. It has now begun hiring scabs to replace striking workers.

The United Steelworkers, the lead union in the strike, announced Oct. 3 that the National Labor Relations Board had issued unfair labor practices complaints against ASARCO for illegally threatening and intimidating workers. This action blocks the company from hiring permanent replacement workers.

Donations can be made to the Copper Workers Emergency Strike & Defense Fund, c/o Arizona AFL-CIO Community Services, 330 N. Commerce Park Loop, Suite 140, Tucson, AZ 85745.

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