TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate our blessings with family and friends, but for ASARCO workers on strike, the holiday is filled with uncertainty.
Before they entered their seventh week of striking, on Sunday, those on the picket line gathered extra strength from supporters and loved ones who joined them for a Thanksgiving feast.
Tucked between the open desert and West Pima Mine Road in Sahuarita, Erin Wormer, a truck mechanic for ASARCO on strike, had to get creative. He cooked turkeys in trashcans (rest assured, the method he used was safe and cleanly).
“We have generators but when you are cooking four turkeys for a big group of people like this, I mean you’re not going to bring out an oven,” he said.
After weeks on strike, the meal was a chance for ASARCO workers from the Mission Complex to reflect on what they are fighting for.
“It’s all about taking care of each other,” said Wormer. “We are fighting for a better life, together.”
Which is why Wormer has been on the picket line five days a week.
“It’s definitely a burden,” he said. “To say it's easy ... I would be lying.”
As a father with two young kids, Wormer says the feast was needed to keep spirits up. “The kids over here with cranberry sauce up to their ears, it's good! I am very happy,” he said. “You come out here and realize you're not alone.”
At this time, there’s no telling how long the ASARCO strike will last.
“[ASARCO’s] ‘Last, Best and Final Offer’ was pretty insulting,” said Karla Schumann, the Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 104. “It was very detrimental. Not only did it freeze pensions, it more than doubled the out-of-pocket expenditures for healthcare and only a third of the work group would see a raise.”
Unions representing ASARCO workers have also filed “unfair labor practice” charges. They are waiting for a determination from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
After their Thanksgiving dinner, every teamster went home with a gift card to buy a turkey. They were also told they would have Thursday off, thanks to union leaders who plan to pull long shifts.
“It will be awesome to spend time with family and close friends on Thanksgiving,” said Wormer.
Even given their situation, strikers know there’s still much to be thankful for.
“This is family right here,” said Alex Terrazas, the President of United Steelworkers Local 937. “It doesn’t matter what union you are; we are family right here.”
“If we keep fighting, something is going to happen,” said Wormer. “Nobody wants to be here, but we are doing it for a reason.”
We reached out to ASARCO for comment and have not heard back.