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Idaho Silver Strike Enters Sixth Month

Mullan, Idaho—Members of United Steelworkers Local 5114 have been on strike at the Lucky Friday silver mine here since March 13, resisting major concessions demanded by Hecla, the mine’s owner. The company’s “last and final” offer would have given it the right to increase health-insurance costs at any time and ended union control over the organization of jobs. The union’s resistance, Hecla argued in a letter sent to workers July 29, “seems to be about a few senior employees retaining their power over the rest of the workforce.” “The union-controlled job-bid system protects miners’ lives by ensuring that experienced miners teach the new hires the ropes,” Local 5114 President Phil Epler told the Militant. “Otherwise the boss can put a new hire in a position where he can endanger himself and others.” On Aug. 2, about 150 people, including members of several other unions in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest, rallied in front of Hecla’s corporate headquarters in Coeur d’Alene, about 55 miles west of the mine. “Hecla can end this strike now by signing a fair contract,” Epler posted on Facebook Aug. 14. No union member has crossed the picket line, he says. Read more

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