Unions Fighting Inequality at Asarco Strike a Major Blow

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Contact: Manny Armenta, marmenta@usw.org

TUCSON, Ariz. – The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that the unions which represent more than 2,000 hourly workers at five Asarco locations in Arizona and Texas won a multimillion dollar arbitration award for hundreds of employees that the company has refused to pay collectively bargained quarterly bonuses.

USW District 12 Director Bob LaVenture, who chairs the unions' negotiations with Asarco, praised the ruling on behalf of the Asarco workers hired since July 1, 2011, to whom the company now owes millions.

"We are relieved now that Asarco management must honor our contract," LaVenture said, "but more importantly, the company has lost another issue it has cynically used to divide our membership during our current protracted negotiations."

LaVenture said that Asarco management's strategy to discourage newer employees from joining the union by denying the bonus to them backfired.

"Instead of dividing workers, the company's tactic united us over issues that impact everyone, regardless of which location they work or when they were hired," LaVenture said. "I'm proud of the solidarity that the union members at each location have maintained since the current negotiations started about 18 months ago."

Overall, the USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply, manufacturing and energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

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