Co-op miners picket to mark anniversary of election
|Picketers gather at the road leading to the CW Mining Company in Huntington Canyon.|
More than forty miners and their supporters joined a picket line in front of C.W. Mining's Co-op mine recently. It was attended by trade unionists from Salt Lake City, UMWA retired miners, UMWA members, coal miners and others. The action marked the one-year anniversary of the union representation election at the mine, for which 27 of the 34 ballots have still not been counted.
"A year? I don't think that's fair or acceptable. I don't think anybody does," Dave Maggio, a UMWA international representative based in nearby Price told members of press in attendance. The picket line was sponsored by United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) District 22, the state AFL-CIO, and Utah Jobs With Justice.
It was one of a series of events around the country sponsored by the labor federation and its affiliates to promote workers rights in conjunction with International Human Rights Day.
Thirty three miners were allegedly fired for union activity in the days leading up to the December 2004 election, and several more shortly after the election. In a get-together at the UMWA hall in Price after the picket line Mike Burke, a UMWA international organizer, thanked the participants for having been out on the picket line on a frigid December day. Burke told the gathering about recent decisions of National Labor Relations Board.
In a Dec. 9 ruling they found that 31 of the firings were the result of discrimination against these miners for their union activities. The NLRB has scheduled a March 14 hearing before an administrative law judge in Price, to present their findings and hear arguments from both sides, providing a settlement cannot be reached between the company and the UMWA by then.
The struggle for UMWA representation at the Co-op mine, where workers were paid between $5.50 and $7 per hour began in September 2003. Most of the miners were immigrants from Mexico. They fought for a real union through a 10 month strike that won support from workers throughout Utah and other parts of the United States. Some international unions also took up the miners' cause.
The union election was a result of the miners hard-fought strike. The labor board ordered the reinstatement of the miners with back pay in July 2004, and a union election later in the year.
CW Mining filed a federal lawsuit against 17 of the miners, the UMWA, supporters of the miners' fight, and several newspapers that had reported what the miners had to say, three months before the scheduled union representation election. Many of the miners were served court papers in the days leading up to the election, and some on the day of the election.
A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Jan. 25 in federal court in Salt Lake City.