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Idaho Miners Reject Contract, Continue 2½-Year Strike

December 25, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

SPOKANE, Wash.—Miners on strike in Idaho for 2½ years narrowly rejected a contract agreement that would have ended the walkout. The vote, announced Dec. 16 by United Steelworkers Local 5114, was 80-71 against the tentative deal the union reached with Hecla Mining Co. in November. “Hopefully, we can make some adjustments with this agreement and, hopefully, members will approve,” Steelworkers staff representative Timothy Swallow told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Workers at the Lucky Friday lead, silver, and zinc mine in Idaho’s northern panhandle went on strike in March 2017, objecting to company demands to change their work assignments and vacation scheduling, increase health-care premiums, and end the longtime practice of letting lead miners pick their own work crews. The proposed contract would have given the miners raises and a $1,000 ratification bonus and continued letting them choose their own crews. It would also have brought them back on the job gradually, requiring them to pass a physical and a drug test before they could return. The mine continued operating during the walkout, but its silver production fell by almost 80% from 2017 to 2018. Read more

December 25, 2019

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