SEVEN LOCAL 627 (Phoenix) Boilermakers were among some 1,800 union workers on tap to return to their jobs after a nine-month multi-union strike against Tucson-based copper producer ASARCO, LLC ended July 6. Their return to work is pending, given a company decision to “temporarily and indefinitely” shut down some of the operations that employ the Boilermakers.
Prior to the strike, workers had not received a raise in more than 11 years, and the strike, which also included Teamsters, Steelworkers, IBEW, Machinists, Pipefitters and Operating Engineers, began in October 2019 after workers rejected ASARCO's “best and final” contract that sought to freeze wages, gut pensions and bonuses and more than double out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
“The Boilermakers affected by this were very disappointed,” said L-627 BM-ST Jacob Evenson. “We have been on contract extensions for several years with no cost-of-living wage increases, while ASARCO's parent company, Grupo Mexico, profits in billions each year.
“The company failed to bargain in good faith over mandatory subjects and concerns of our membership, their bargaining tactics were deliberately to waste the unions’ time and money, they failed to provide the necessary information for the union to bargain, and they claimed impasse when there was still plenty left on the table.”
So the unions filed unfair labor practice charges and went on strike, manning picket lines for months.
In a union victory, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the workers, agreeing that ASARCO failed to bargain in good faith. The ruling means that the workers are considered to have been striking as a result of the ULPs; and therefore, according U.S. labor law, they are protected against permanent replacement. During the strike, ASARCO hired “replacement workers.” Should ASARCO fail to reinstate the striking workers, the striking workers would be entitled to backpay for every day ASARCO refuses to reinstate them.
ASARCO operates the Mission Mine in Sahuarita, Arizona; the Silver Bell Mine in Marana, Arizona; the Ray Mine in Kearny, Arizona; the Hayden Smelter in Hayden, Arizona; and a refinery in Amarillo, Texas.
The seven Boilermakers work at the concentrator at the Hayden Smelter site. As of mid-August, the Boilermakers had not been reinstated at their jobs, and most recently, ASARCO sent notification that it was temporarily and indefinitely shutting down the Hayden concentrator, among several other operations.
“We have been in communication with ASARCO and continue bargaining and working to get our union members back to work,” Evenson said.