On the Picket Line

Idaho miners’ rally marks two-and-a-half-year walkout

By Edwin Fruit
October 21, 2019

MULLAN, Idaho — Some 100 members of United Steelworkers Local 5114 and supporters marched and rallied here Oct. 5, marking two and a half years since silver miners at the Lucky Friday mine went out on strike against Hecla Mining Company. 

The company wants to gut the union-enforced system under which workers bid on job crews based on seniority, a system miners say helps protect their safety and lives. The company also wants to increase miners’ medical insurance payments and cut bonuses and silver premiums, an important part of what miners take home. 

Hecla bosses want to run the mine 24/7 except for two holidays a year, Bruce Baraby, who has worked at Lucky Friday for 35 years, told the Militant. “In the past the company always asked for volunteers for holiday or Sunday work,” he said. “Now they want to make this mandatory for all workers. It’s not worth what your body has to go through working underground.” 

Baraby said that the mine has been operating at a limited capacity with management personnel and about a dozen scabs who have crossed the picket line. 

At the rally, Local President Dave Roose thanked the wives and relatives of the miners “who have been the cornerstone of the fight, including keeping a food bank going for the length of the strike.” Roose told the Militant  that negotiations are ongoing with the company.