From USW Local 675

New Year’s Day will mark the 81st day that the Southern Arizona unions have been on strike against the ASARCO mining company.

Several members of Local 675 recently traveled to Southern Arizona to show our support for the striking USW copper miners. These members were Eli Green and Ocean LaRance to present the approximate $900.00 strike support collection from Marathon Carson employees and; Local 2nd Vice President Frank Vasquez and Alfredo Martinez from the Phillips 66 LA Terminal Unit, as well as Local Secretary-Treasurer David Campbell, to present a $2,000.00 contribution from the Local Union.

Thank you to all Marathon Carson employees who contributed to this solidarity event and to the rest of the Local for making a contribution as well.

When we first arrived in Kearny AZ, one of the first things we witnessed was the one-time Christmas hardship checks being distributed to the Brothers and Sisters holding down the line. One Sister that we saw was on the verge of tears, telling the Hardship Committee how much it meant and how grateful she was.

We also had the privilege to meet many other striking Brothers and Sisters. One of these was Kevin “Spanky” Chiquete of USW Local 915, a 22-year member, Hardship Committee Chair, and Diesel Mechanic by trade.

“Two of the main reasons we felt a strike was needed was 1. Employees had not received raises in 10 yrs, 2. ASARCO had raised the prices on insurance, up to 200%. ASARCO never gave us a reason why they aren’t giving us raises they just told us, “That’s the way it is.”

Kevin related that he is a 3rd generation union member, that for him being in the union means being a part of a family, keeping each other strong. Kenny said that when his grandfather started working in the mines, they paid him $1 less because he was Mexican. Other ethnicities received even less. Unions helped to even that gap.

Kevin also believes that the way to make the union stronger is by education: teaching people what it means to be in a union; telling them what has been accomplished that not only effects our other Brothers and Sisters but every other working person out there. Kevin said, “I’m a Diesel Mechanic. I love my trade and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

USW Local 915 tries to keep at least 3 people on the picket line during the night. Where freezing temperatures are normal in the early mornings.

Along with USW Local 915 there are other USW Locals and those of other Unions from the surrounding areas that are holding down the line. These include USW Locals 5252 & 886, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the International Association of Machinists.

The last thing we noticed as we drove away were two young boys, about 10 years-old, holding their own picket signs. Many people may think that a picket line is no place for children, but unions are the reason that 10-year-old children are not working in these same mines today and, instead, get to go to school and, hopefully, have a better life than their parents.