Solidarity with Utah miners

SAN FRANCISCO – In Huntington, Utah, coal miners at Co-Op Mines make $5.25 to $7 an hour, a third of the average wage in the industry. Seventy-five of the workers, who are almost all immigrants from Mexico, were fired Sept. 22 for protesting dangerous working conditions and the suspension of a co-worker who was pursuing union representation. Seventy-five percent of the mine’s 83 hourly workers have signed a representation petition with the United Mine Workers of America.

A delegation of the miners spoke to a solidarity meeting in at Centro del Pueblo in San Francisco on Jan. 18. The four miners, Benito Meza, Juan Salazar, Aliston Kennedy, and Ricardo Chavez, reported that most workers lack medical insurance and retirement benefits. They are forced to use defective machinery and do not receive adequate safety training. Female workers have no bath house.

Speakers at the solidarity meeting included Walter Johnson, head of the San Francisco Labor Council, and representatives of the Longshoreman’s Union, Labor Council on Latin American Advancement, Day Laborers Program, Service Employees Union and the Chinese Progressive Association. Tracy Johnson of the United Food and Commercial Workers spoke for a large contingent of striking grocery workers from Southern California who attended. Among the donations announced were $5,000 from the ILWU and a check sent from the Engineers Union of New Zealand for $1,760.20.

On Feb. 7, a giant support rally will be held in Huntington, Utah. The ILWU pledged to have its entire Drill Team there in solidarity.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org.