MULLAN, Idaho --- Miners from the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho have now been on strike against Hecla Mining Company for three weeks.
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” last month.
USW Local 5114 President Phil Epler said the union has been negotiating with Hecla since their 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement expired in May 2016. He said now that they have passed the three week mark on their strike, they will get some financial assistance from the larger union group.
He said the community has also helped them out.
“We’re hoping that they kind of see the light and come to the table,” Epler said of the mining company. “Times are getting hard.”
Previously, 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,” he explained.
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.
Hecla Mining Company representatives said the existing scheduling system was outdated.
"It's a system that worked in the past, but won't work in the future," said Luke Russell, the VP of External Affairs on Monday. "It's really important to Hecla that they have the flexibility to assign where and when our miners work."
Russell said they have met with the miners, 27 times before the strike and once after the strike began.
"If the union has some ideas, we have not heard them from them," he said. Russell argued that the scheduling system debate at the center of the strike was outdated.
"The current system, there are no other U.S. mines that we're aware of that uses that system," Russell said. "The industry has moved to where our proposal is."
Meanwhile, the miners' union is prepared for the long haul.
“I expect it will be awhile,” Epler said.
This story has been updated to include updated quotes from Hecla representatives.
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