On the Picket Line

After nearly 3-year strike, Idaho silver miners approve contract

By Edwin Fruit
January 27, 2020

SEATTLE — After nearly three years on strike silver miners in Mullan, Idaho, voted 86-78 to ratify a new contract with the Hecla Mining Co. Jan. 6.

The unionists, members of United Steelworkers Local 5114, walked out at the Lucky Friday mine there in March 2017 after the company arbitrarily imposed a contract on the 250 workers who had voted it down several times.

Details of the contract have not been publicly released. The company was insisting on ending the union-enforced system where workers bid on job crews based on seniority, which workers insist is key to their safety. The company also demanded workers pay more for their health insurance.

When the strike began, picket lines shut the mine down. It has operated at a minimal capacity since, staffed by managers and a few workers who crossed the picket line.

The unions organized rallies at the mine and at Hecla corporate headquarters in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, throughout the strike.

Other unions contributed to a hardship fund for the striking workers and their families and participated in several of the rallies. Local 5114 also organized a food bank that operated throughout the walkout.

Striking Road Warriors traveled to corporate meetings and trade shows where Hecla executives appeared in the U.S. and Canada to publicize their strike. And they joined in solidarity actions for other labor battles.