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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 69/No. 27July 18, 2005


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lead article
Pickets at Co-Op mine press fight for UMWA
Militant/Mark Downs
Co-Op miners and supporters picket June 29 outside the Huntington, Utah, coal mine where they are fighting for representation by the United Mine Workers of America.

HUNTINGTON, Utah—The signs read, in English and Spanish: “UMWA all the way!” “Count the votes!” “We want the UMWA!”

Ten Co-Op miners and supporters held up these signs during an informational picket line June 29 at the entrance to the Co-Op mine here.

It was the latest of such picket lines that the miners have organized during their 22-month-long battle to organize the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) at the mine, owned by C.W. Mining.

The Co-Op miners were joined on the picket line by Bob Fivecoat, a member of UMWA Local 9958, which is made up of retired miners, and two members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Mike Downs from Los Angeles and Mark Downs of Seattle.

The pickets waved their signs to vehicles traveling along Huntington Canyon. Coal haulers carrying loads from a nearby mine honked long and loud in support.

“It’s time for justice. We want our jobs back,” said Raymundo Silva, one of the miners at Co-Op. Silva and other miners also waved their UMWA signs to bosses and their relatives coming out of the mine.

Picketing miners said the bosses are still calling some miners to come to work under the same conditions as when they were fired. All the workers coming out of the mine at the end of day shift, however, were relatives of the mine owners, according to the pickets.

Silva and the other miners asked each other, “Where are the coal trucks?” referring to the CTC company trucks that haul the coal from Co-Op. “They used to run day and night before the strike,” said Sergio Ponce, a welder at the mine. Only one truck had come out of the mine after more than an hour of picketing.

Moments later one of the miners yelled, “Look it’s Jimmy!” when he saw an approaching CTC truck. “Oh my God,” said the miner, “he’s now driving a coal truck. He used to be my boss underground at Co-Op.” Everybody erupted in laughter and cheers.

“Let’s stay until he comes out,” said Silva, who brought a cooler with sodas for everybody in the back of his truck. Everyone refreshed themselves with a drink while they waited for the boss to come out. After more than a half hour of waiting, a miner called out, “There he is!” The boss came out driving his own pickup truck on his way home. The miners waved their signs at the mine boss and laughed some more as he sped away.

After two hours of picketing the miners gathered up and said they planned to come back again another day.

Mark Downs is a retired longshore worker and ILWU member in Seattle, Washington, where he is active in building solidarity for the Co-Op miners.
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