MULLAN, Idaho – Miners from the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho announced a strike against Hecla Mining Company at 5:30 a.m. Monday.
Members from United Steelworkers Local 5114 voted 230 yes votes to 2 no votes in favor of the strike, after Hecla offered what they called their "last, best, and final offer."
Production is now stalled at one of the last two notable silver mines in Shoshone County.
USW Local 5114 President Phil Epler said the union has been negotiating with Hecla since their 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement expired in May 2016.
“The company wants to do some radical changes to our CBA that has been established over generations,” said Epler.
Epler said the changes include scheduling changes and recall rights cuts.
“Miners, under our current system, have a say in where they work and their schedules,” said Epler.
Epler said Hecla wants to control scheduling and miners are not comfortable with the changes.
Hecla Mining Company released the following statement:
“We are very disappointed in USW Local 5114’s decision to walk out,” said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., President and CEO of Hecla. “We appreciate our work force and our last, best and final offer provides competitive benefits but also provides the flexibility necessary to operate a mine successfully in a changing economic and regulatory environment.”
"It was time to take a stand and make a move," said Bruce Baraby, a miner on strike. "We were just staring at each other and it's not going anywhere."
Baraby said he has worked at the mine for three decades. He said miners previously worked 10 hours shifts with five days on and four days off. He said now it has been switched to 11 hour days with seven days on and seven days off.
"It's actually too much on a family," he said. "You don't see your wife and kids for a week. It starts to cause problems."
A spokesperson from Hecla said that "seven on, seven off" description was not accurate. He said Hecla's proposal gives the company the authority to make changes to the miners' existing schedules. He said there are not any definitive schedules in place.
Both sides still have negotiating teams in touch, though it is not clear how long the strike will last.
"If I have to be here seven, eight months, so be it," Baraby said.
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