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Striking Arasco miners ask lawmakers, “Which side are you on?”

(Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters press release, January 13, 2020)

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Busloads of striking mine workers rallied at the opening day of the Arizona Legislature today to call on Gov. Doug Ducey, state legislators, and the Arizona congressional delegation to intervene in the ongoing unfair labor practice strike at Asarco, the Arizona-based mining subsidiary of the giant Mexican conglomerate Grupo Mexico. The striking workers were joined by several Arizona state legislators including Richard C. Andrade (AZ District 29), Domingo DeGrazia (AZ District 10), Pamela Powers Hannley (AZ District 9) and Athena Salman (AZ District 26).

For almost 100 days, nearly 2,000 mine workers in Arizona and Texas, represented by the Teamsters, USW, IBEW, IAM, UA, IUOE and the Boilermakers, have been on strike to demand that Asarco stop violating federal labor laws and breaking international labor standards.

“We know that in the past many Arizona lawmakers have supported Grupo Mexico, but today the Arizona Legislature, our congressional delegation and the governor’s office have a choice to make,” said Karla Schumann, Secretary-Treasurer of the Teamsters’ state-wide local union in Arizona, Teamsters Local 104. “Will they choose to stand with working families in Arizona, with the many veterans that work at Asarco, and with the Arizona communities that depend on the mining industry? Or will they stand with a rogue Mexican oligarch hell-bent on exporting excessive greed, worker abuse and environmental devastation across the border?”

Grupo Mexico, ranked as one of the least ethical companies in the world, is owned by the Mexican oligarch, Germán Larrea, one of the wealthiest men in Mexico, second only to telecom magnate Carlos Slim. Examples of Grupo's unscrupulous behavior include creating the worst ecological disaster in Mexico's history by releasing over 10 million gallons of copper sulfate into a major watershed and refusing to recover the bodies of 63 mine workers killed in an explosion at a Grupo mine or adequately compensate the families for their loss.

Larrea owns Asarco and several other mining companies in Latin America and Spain, along with the largest railroad in Mexico, energy companies, port shipping terminals and one of the world’s largest movie theater chains, with locations across Mexico and the United States.

Grupo Mexico has a long history of abusing Mexican workers and their communities, but records show that Grupo Mexico is also targeting Americans. According to the Good Jobs First “violations tracker,” Grupo Mexico’s Asarco subsidiary has racked up 16 environmental violations since 2000 totaling $387,640,097 in penalties, and 112 workplace health or safety violations totaling $1,418,227.

Mine workers at Asarco have gone 10 years without a pay raise and Asarco’s most recent contract offer would freeze workers’ pension plans, leave two-thirds of hourly workers without a raise, and more than double workers’ out-of-pocket employee-paid health care. On December 2, 2019, Asarco illegally imposed its most recent offer on workers.

“Copper mining has been a major source of economic growth in Arizona since the 19th century, but Grupo Mexico’s gross history of worker abuse has cast a cloud over the future of copper mining in the state and could force major automotive, technology and construction companies to blacklist Arizona copper,” Schumann said. “Not only that, but Grupo Mexico’s unethical conduct will likely strain Arizona’s relationship with Mexico and become a major issue during the upcoming elections.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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