USW to 'Adopt' 3,000 Striking Workers' Families in Mexico

Jerry Fernandez 412-562-2611
Barbara White Stack 724-713-2821

PITTSBURGH, - The United Steelworkers (USW) union has launched a campaign in which its local unions in the U.S. and Canada will adopt a striking family at the Cananea copper ore mine, owned by Grupo Mexico, where 3,000 workers have been on strike in Mexico for more than a year.

"Grupo Mexico and the Mexican government will soon find that the USW will not go away," said Gerald Fernandez, USW director of international affairs and strategic campaigns, "Steelworkers do not back down and will support their brothers and sisters, as they supported us, as long as it takes."

In addition, the USW will continue to provide safe haven in Canada for Napoleon Gomez, the leader of the union to which the Cananea workers belong, the Mining and Metalworkers Union of Mexico (Los Mineros).

The government of Mexico improperly removed Mr. Gomez from his position as Los Mineros general secretary on charges that have proven, again and again, in Mexican courts to have been trumped up.

The Mexican government prosecuted him after he publicly protested the deaths in 2006 of 65 miners at Grupo Mexico's Pasta de Conchos mine in Coihuila state, calling them "industrial homicide." After his life was threatened, the USW helped him and his family escape the country.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating a new death threat. The Mexican government is continuing to re-file charges, despite the failure of all cases against Mr. Gomez in the past. These charges prevent him from returning to lead Los Mineros because he would be imprisoned upon re-entering the country.

"The persecution of this legitimate and innocent labor leader must end," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, who helped Mr. Gomez and his wife secure work papers enabling them to remain in Canada. "It is clear that Mexico has no intention of actually prosecuting him when it has not made any effort in two years to extradite him. And it has not done that because it has not one shred of real evidence against him," Neumann added.

The Mexican government is unabashedly backing Grupo Mexico and German Larrea at Cananea in an effort to break up Los Mineros during Mr. Gomez's absence from the country, Fernandez said. That is why it is so important to the USW to support the Cananea families, he explained.

Steelworkers already donated more than $30,000 for the strikers at Cananea during the USW Convention in Las Vegas in July.

Locals now will make monthly donations that will go to help support Cananea families for the duration of the strike.

The USW and Los Mineros formed a strategic alliance after Los Mineros provided crucial support in 2005 to steelworkers striking Asarco, a company owned by Grupo Mexico.

The USW represents 850,000 members in North American, including some 30,000 in the mining industry.

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