JwJ joins miners picket

TUCSON — Bosses driving home from work at Asarco, Inc.’s Silverbell copper mine north of here witnessed solidarity in action July 22, as some 20 Jobs with Justice members walked the picket line with striking miners. Most of the strikers are represented by the United Steelworkers.

“Jobs with Justice supports the United Steelworkers in their global struggle against Asarco, and we will continue to support the Steelworkers until we win,” said Steve Valencia, chair of the Tucson Coalition of Jobs with Justice. The Tucson Coalition walks the picket line with the strikers at the Silverbell Mine every Friday.

Workers at Silverbell and five other sites in Arizona and Texas have been striking over Asarco’s unfair labor practices since the week of July 4th. Hayden and nearby Kearny, Ariz., where a majority of the 1,500 strikers are picketing three of Asarco’s properties, are old mining towns. Community support for the workers is strong, said a local resident.

The company returned to the bargaining table for the Ray Mine contract on July 22, but continued to insist on unfair and unnecessary concessions from its hourly employees, according to the Steelworkers.

“Asarco management keeps saying it wants a contract, but then they refuse to bargain in good faith with the unions that represent their employees,” said Terry Bonds, USW District 12 director. “They insist that the company needs to save money to keep operating, but then they refuse to provide the information we need to address operational efficiencies.”

Talks are set to resume August 2.

Strike Assistance Centers providing information and education about mortgages, food and utility assistance and debt counseling have been established in Tucson and Kearny. Call (520) 628-1562 for more information. Donations can be made out to “USW Emergency Strike Fund” and mailed to USW, 2123 E. Grant Rd., Tucson AZ 85719.