Solidarity strong for Southwest miners

TUCSON, Ariz. — Over 1,500 workers have been forced out on strike by the unfair labor practices of ASARCO Inc., a mining and smelting company.

Union members at the Ray Mine in Kearny, Ariz., and at the Hayden Concentrator in Hayden, Ariz., voted overwhelmingly in favor of the strike that began at midnight July 2. They were quickly followed by their brothers and sisters at three more locations in Arizona and one in Amarillo, Texas.

Strikers have already been joined on the picket line by the Tucson Coalition of Jobs with Justice and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Support has also come from the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers of Mexico (STMMRM) and the Federation of Workers of the Mines and Metal Industries of Peru (FETIMAP), said Manny Armenta, director of United Steelworkers Subdistrict 2. Both unions participated with the USW in Global Solidarity Day protests on June 21 against mining conglomerate Grupo Mexico, parent company of ASARCO, Minera Mexico and Southern Peru Copper.

Prior to the Global Solidarity Day protests, leaders of the USW and the STMMRM formally committed to joint actions when in disputes with common employers. The USW, STMMRM and FETIMAP, representing workers from three different countries, are in the process of building a coalition of metals and mining industry unions throughout the Western Hemisphere.

In a February press release, USW President Leo Gerard stated, “Companies in our industries are increasingly forming regional and global strategies, and we must coordinate our efforts across borders if we are to maintain and build on our strength.”

“ASARCO forced our members into these strikes,” said Terry Bonds, District 12 director of the USW, the union representing most of the striking workers. The company has been negotiating in bad faith, failing to give proper information to the union and providing information that does not substantiate what they had been claiming. The USW is in the process of establishing an emergency strike fund. Checks should be made out to “USW Emergency Strike Fund,” and mailed to USW, 2123 E. Grant Rd., Tucson AZ 85719.