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Victory for locked out miners in California

On Saturday, miners with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 30 in California, voted to ratify a new agreement with Rio Tinto, the world’s forth largest mining company, to end their 107-day lockout.

The union was able to beat back many of the Rio Tinto’s demands – including the right to convert full-time jobs to part-time, cut pay at any time and outsource – and won annual wage increases for the next six years and a $5,000 signing bonus for new hires.

According to a recap on the miner’s long nonviolent struggle in Labor Notes:

Four factors contributed to the win:

  • community and labor movement support. Tons of food were delivered from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and others. The ILWU got doctors to volunteer for a free clinic. The local credit union—the only financial institution in Boron—let workers slide for three months on house and car notes, Martz said.
  • the union’s pressure, with allies, on Rio Tinto around the world. Protesters dogged company executives from Boston to London to Australia.
  • poor production by scabs. “They admitted less than a month ago they were on their third group of scabs,” said Martz. “The scabs haven’t worked out for them.” Much of the Boron workforce is highly skilled and familiar with the operation, coming from generations of mining families.
  • political pressure from the union that stopped a federal handout of tribal lands