Supreme Court Denies ASARCO’s Petition to Review Copper Bonus Case

Contact: Tony Montana – (412) 562-2592; tmontana@usw.org

Tucson, Ariz.– The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied ASARCO, LLC’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision to enforce an arbitrator’s order for the company to pay millions of dollars to hundreds of employees hired after June 30, 2011. ASARCO has now exhausted all of its appeals, and must comply with the arbitrator’s decision.

The eight international unions which represent more than 2,000 hourly workers at five ASARCO locations in Arizona and Texas have been fighting to collect the award since December 2014, when Arbitrator Michael Rappaport originally determined that the company wrongly withheld from newer employees quarterly bonuses based on the price of copper.

Prior to the company’s request for the Supreme Court to review the case, the Ninth Circuit twice affirmed U.S. District Judge Stephen M. McNamee’s 2016 decision to enforce the arbitrator’s award, as well as his declaration that ASARCO should pay post-judgment interest, which continues to accrue. The total amount wrongly withheld from ASARCO employees exceeds $10 million.

USW District 12 Director Bob LaVenture said that the company’s attempt to divide the union membership by withholding bonus payments from newer hires backfired and has become an issue that united workers in solidarity within and between ASARCO locations.

“Although ASARCO has delayed and postponed paying the millions of dollars it owes for years, we never stopped fighting to ensure justice for these workers and their families,” LaVenture said. “The company’s constant attempts to undermine our contracts have truly united us in solidarity.”

LaVenture said that the USW is gratified with the Supreme Court’s decision, but warned that the struggle for fairness with ASARCO and its corporate parent, Grupo Mexico, will continue.He said that the union will now work to make sure the company pays what it owes to current and former employees and would provide updates when a timetable is available.

“Management has proven that they are willing to go great lengths to avoid paying employees, but the company has finally run out of room to run from this obligation,” he said. “Asarco management now has no choice but to work with the unions representing its workers to determine what is owed and to pay these workers without further delay.”

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

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