SHOSHONE COUNTY, Idaho – It has been over a month since workers at the Lucky Friday mine voted to go on strike.
As of Wednesday, Hecla Mining leaders said Lucky Friday is not producing because of the strike. It could stay like that for a while and there are not any active negotiations on either side I'm told.
The strike is still very active. In March, the 250 miners at Lucky Friday voted to strike after roughly a year of negotiations with Hecla, the company that owns the mine, failed to result in a new work agreement. The miners' union took issue with several aspects of the proposed agreement, including wages, benefits, and work schedules.
"They forced our hand. None of us really wanted to go on strike," said miner Cameron Erickson.
Hecla leaders have maintained that the proposed changes are necessary in order to keep Lucky Friday viable. Hecla said the picketers have been peaceful and that the mine does not have any plans to bring in temporary workers. A spokesperson said the company can afford to be "patient."
"We knew this was going to be taking place and we knew this was going to be a long-haul situation," said Erickson.
Some union members have been receiving financial help from the union's national group. This amounts to roughly $200 per miner per week, according to the local union president.
KREM 2 reached out to the Shoshone County Board of Commissioners. The county chairman declined to speak on camera, saying he wanted to remain neutral in terms of the strike. He said that the county has not seen any immediate negative effects from the strike. In the long run, the commissioners are concerned that the miners' lost wages could result in less spending in the Silver Valley. The longer the strike goes on, there is concern that workers will leave the area.
It is worth noting that Shoshone County typically has one of the highest unemployment rates in Idaho to begin with roughly double the state average as of now. Lucky Friday is one of the largest employers in the valley.
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