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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 68/No. 2January 19, 2004


Contributions to the $150,000 HQ Building Fund accelerate
Read the appeal for contributions to the fund to help build a new Pathfinder bookstore and distribution center in New York, by Joel Britton, one of the fund directors.

lead article
Utah miners plan tour in
California to win support
Strikers at Co-Op mine to meet with unionists in Bay Area
Militant/James Vincent
Edwin Rosales, a union pipefitter and one of supporters of Co-Op coal strike who traveled from Los Angeles to Huntington, Utah, hands bag of sugar to miner Gonzalo Salazar. Solidarity messages and contributions to the strikers have picked up in recent weeks.

HUNTINGTON, Utah—Striking workers at the Co-Op coal mine here are launching their first speaking tour outside Utah to win support in their battle for union recognition. Over the past few weeks, solidarity with the miners’ battle has widened in many parts of the country.

The San Jose chapter of the Labor Council on Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) recently contacted the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) district offices in Price, Utah, and invited the Utah miners to the California Bay Area to speak about their union fight.

“We’re finding a lot of enthusiasm and interest in the struggle of the Co-Op miners in Utah. People want to know how they’re fighting as immigrant workers,” said Rick Trujillo, president of the LCLAA chapter in San Jose, in an interview.

Seventy-five coal miners, almost all of them Mexican, are involved in an unfair labor practice strike against CW Mining, also known as Co-Op, for being fired illegally on September 22 when they protested the unjust suspension of a co-worker. The miners are fighting for recognition of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) as their union.

The tour is beginning January 12 in San Jose and will extend to other parts of the Bay Area. The strikers have been invited by Joan Emslie, president of Local 250 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and member of the South Bay Central Labor Council Executive Board, to attend a delegates’ meeting of the council, as well as two meetings of shop stewards of SEIU Local 250, which organizes hospital workers. They will also speak at a meeting of Teamsters Local 287 and Communication Workers of America Local 9423.

More than 100 days into the strike, the miners at Co-Op remain firm, strengthened by the growing solidarity. They report that during the month of December the company hardly trucked any coal out of the mine. The number of trucks recorded by picket captains on each of the four daily picket shifts was zero.  
Message from Minnesota unionists
Support for the miners continues to broaden across the country. In St. Paul, Minnesota, a solidarity message was sent with the signatures of several people who took part in a December 18 union social sponsored by United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 789. Among the signers were Local 789 president Don Seaquist; Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhart; John Massetti, secretary-treasurer of Machinists Local Lodge 143; and Ben Miller, a field agent for the Lakes and Plains Regional Council of the Carpenters.

The message stated, “Your fight is important to us and to other workers in this country. An injury to one is an injury to all! In the union there is strength! ¡En la union está la fuerza!”

Letters of support and donations for the miners have poured in over the past month. Christmas cards signed by meat packers in New Zealand, a letter of support in English and Spanish from a Steelworkers local in Pennsylvania, and a card signed by garment workers in Boston are just a few examples. A total of $2,650 in donations were received by the District 22 office of the United Mine Workers of America in Price, Utah, over the Christmas holidays, in addition to numerous local donations.

A couple from Salt Lake City, Utah, came down to Huntington with their children to donate $100 and toys, and to chat with the miners. Two union pipefitters from the nearby power plant recently stopped by after work to give their support, bringing refreshments. A reporter from the Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, left his business card at the picket trailer on New Year’s Day saying the paper wants to write an in-depth story on the fight.

The Co-Op Miners Solidarity Committee in Salt Lake City, a coalition of labor, students, and religious organizations, has set a calendar of support activities for January. The student group in this committee at the University of Utah, the Student Labor Action Project, is inviting Co-Op miners to speak on campus. The speakers include a woman who escaped from the Kingston family and supports the miners. The Kingstons, the owners of the Co-Op mine, are a notorious capitalist family in Utah that has been in the news because of abuse against women by prominent members of the polygamous family.

Other upcoming activities in Salt Lake include a fund-raising concert, a visit to the governor of Utah, a caravan of cars from Salt Lake to the Co-Op picket, and more picketing of Kingston businesses.

A delegation from Los Angeles arrived here January 3 with two carloads of food for the strikers. They were greeted at the town hall by members of the leadership committee and Jim Stevenson, a UMWA international representative.

Ana Laura Villagrana, president of the Latin American Society at California State University in Los Angeles, read a message of support from her organization. The campus organization has extended an invitation to the miners to come to Los Angeles to speak about their fight at a meeting on “Labor across borders” in early February.

The Los Angeles supporters presented cards and letters of solidarity they brought from other students and unionists. Among the signers of the messages were members of the Los Angeles Cuba Coalition, which made a collection among guests at its annual New Year’s celebration. The $600 raised in Los Angeles, which included $100 collected by workers at a meatpacking plant, was used to bring food and make a donation to the strike fund.

Ana María Sánchez, one of the Co-Op miners, told the Los Angeles group about the strike and introduced several of the other strike leaders.

“The main thing we need is more solidarity,” Sánchez said. “We are going to win this fight, no matter what it takes to get a union in there.”

More solidarity messages and funds are needed in this fight. They can be sent to: UMWA District 22, 525 East 100 South, Price, Utah 84501. Checks should be made out to “Co-op Miners Relief Fund.”

Dennis Richter from San Francisco; Tom Fiske from St. Paul; and Seth Dellinger, James Vincent, and Edwin Rosales from Los Angeles contributed to this article.

The article incorrectly identifies Joan Emslie as the President of Local 250 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She is the president of the South Bay Central Labor Council’s Executive Board and the Secretary Treasurer of SEIU Local 250.

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