Hecla Mine, Steelworkers Consider Arbitration to End Strike

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By Jaclyn Diaz

Hecla Mining Co. workers who have been on strike for 11 months could see the start of a resolution next month.

Hecla has proposed the company and the United Steelworkers, which represents workers at the Lucky Friday mine in Mullan, Idaho, go to binding arbitration. Steelworkers Local 5114 will bring the proposal to its membership by March 7, and they will decide whether to go ahead with an arbitrator, Luke Russell, vice president of external affairs for Hecla, told Bloomberg Law.

The miners had been working under an expired 2010 agreement before the strike started in March 2017.

The company’s proposal to place job assignment responsibilities in the hands of management prompted the strike, the Steelworkers said at the time. It said the change would endanger the lives of the miners. The union isn’t commenting until its members vote on the proposal, it said Feb. 21.

Russell called the issue “a big point of dispute.” Under the current policy the senior, most-qualified miner picks team members and decides where they will work, he said.

If Local 5114 members vote to go forward on the arbitration proposal, the union and Hecla will bring their previous contract proposals to a panel of arbitrators, Russell said. He called it a “winner take all” decision.

The arbitrators will decide whether workers should go with the company’s most recent proposal or return to the 2010 contract, which the union supports.

Lucky Friday employees about 250 miners. It produces silver, lead, and zinc.

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