USW Demands Justice on Anniversary of Mexican Miners’ Deaths

U.S. Congressional Members Send Letter to President Nieto on Worker Rights

Contact:   Ben Davis, 202-550-3729; bdavis@usw.org
                
Gary Hubbard, 202-256-8125;  ghubbard@usw.org

Pittsburgh, PA (Feb. 19, 2014) --  On the eighth anniversary of a mine explosion that killed 65 workers in Mexico, the United Steelworkers (USW) called on Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto to respect the rights of workers.

“The leaders of the NAFTA countries are meeting today in Mexico on the anniversary of a tragic and preventable accident that took the lives of 65 mineworkers,” said USW President Leo W. Gerard.  “Eight years later, there has been no justice.  Workers continue to die while the government escalates its campaign of repression against the mineworkers’ union and its leader, Napoleón Gómez.”

The union and the families of the workers killed in the explosion at Grupo Mexico’s mine Feb. 19, 2006 at Pasta de Conchos demanded recovery of the bodies which remain in the mine, punishment of company and government officials, and fair compensation for the families.

But the government responded by bringing criminal charges against Gómez, freezing the union’s bank accounts, sending in troops to break strikes and installing company-dominated unions.

Last week, five workers died at another Grupo Mexico mine with a company-controlled union, when the elevator they were riding fell 750 feet. Workers have told the Mexican media that their complaints about safety hazards went unanswered.

In a letter to Mexican President Nieto, seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives also demanded justice for the union known as Los Mineros -- the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers of the Mexican Republic.

“We urge you to end the persecution of  Napoleón Gómez and Los Mineros, act swiftly to resolve the outstanding conflicts, and provide justice for the families of the mineworkers who died eight years ago at Pasta de Conchos,” they declared in the letter. It was signed by U.S. Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Joe Courtney (D-CT), James McGovern (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Sam Farr (D-CA).

The congressional letter questioned the wisdom of extending additional trade benefits to Mexico through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) while workers’ rights are being violated.

Steelworkers President Gerard said: “Mexico should improve mine and worker safety standards, and stop persecuting innocent union leaders before we even think about another trade deal.”

Click Here for a copy of the congressional letter.

The full story of the Pasta de Conchos mining tragedy and the fight against greed and corruption in Mexico is a book title: ‘Collapse of Dignity,’ by Napoleon Gomez, at online websites where books are sold, or at: www.CollapseOfDignity.com/.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, plus the service and public sectors.  For more information: http://www.usw.org/.

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