TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Mine workers walked off the job and are standing on the street in Southern Arizona for fair contracts.
The ASARCO employees, represented by the United Steelworkers Union and Teamsters 104, voted to start strikes on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 11 p.m. A handful of other unions representing ASARCO workers are doing the same.
The strike affects employees in the Mission Complex, Silver Bell, Hayden Complex, Ray Mine and Amarillo, Texas.
Workers continued to line Pima Mine Road, off I-19, in Sahuarita Monday.
“We’ve been in negotiations for over a year now trying to make some sense about this and try to get a fair agreement," said Manny Armenta, United Steelworkers Union Spokesman. "This is a last resort, we don’t like going on the strike but we get pushed against the wall we are going to take action and we did.”
The employees are calling for improvements to their pay and benefits. Armenta said many workers had not received a pay increase in about ten years.
Karla Schumann of the Teamsters said, “ASARCO’s last best and final offer was anything but a fair and respectable offer. These workers have already endured nine years without a pay raise and to receive a final offer that freezes pension plans, leaves two thirds of the workers without a raise and more than doubles their out-of-pocket employee paid healthcare is not an offer of equity, it is an insult.”
Other unions involved include United Auto Workers and unions for electricians, machinists, operating engineers, and boilmakers.
“Here you’re working with heavy machinery, you’re working ten to twelve hour shifts," said Armenta. "You know it takes a toll, your eating habits are not the same when you’re working all these shifts and all these hours. People deserve a better pay.”
Armenta said the union met with ASARCO officials in October to discuss the contracts. He said they are open to start negotiating as soon as officials make a reasonable offer.
As for the continued operation at the mines, Armenta said a “handful” of workers went to the Mission Complex location Monday morning.
“All the businesses depend on the people who work here. I mean we’re a...we’re a big resource to the county and a big resource to the city of Tucson and to the businesses," said Armenta.
KOLD News 13 has reached out to ASARCO for a comment on the strike. As of Monday afternoon, we had not yet heard back.