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   Vol. 69/No. 23           June 13, 2005  
Utah miners plan picket, other
actions to press union fight
(front page)
HUNTINGTON, Utah—Co-Op miners told the press May 31 they decided to hold another picket line on June 2 at the Co-Op mine near this town to press their fight to get their jobs back and win representation by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The action follows a picket line that miners and their supporters held on May 23 at the road that leads to the mine, which is owned by C.W. Mining.

The miners said they had just learned that a boss at the mine has been calling a few of the Co-Op miners and offering to rehire them. The miners have been fighting the company for more than 20 months to organize a union and win living wages, decent working conditions, and dignity on the job.

In addition to the picket line, the miners said they would send a delegation to the June 5 commemoration of the 1914 Ludlow massacre of coal miners by company goons and the National Guard. The event will take place near Trinidad, Colorado. The workers have also been invited to attend the annual picnic of a UMWA local in Window Rock, Arizona.

The miners say they have no indication that any of the dozens of Co-Op miners fired by the company last year for union organizing have returned to work after being called by the bosses. The workers said they are calling on UMWA supporters and other partisans of their struggle to join them in these activities. The Co-Op miners will hold their picket line at the same site where they started a 10-month strike following the lockout by the company on Sept. 22, 2003, of 75 workers. C.W. Mining bosses fired the workers at that time after they protested the dismissal of one of their fellow miners and demanded safe working conditions and better wages. The miners won their jobs back in July 2004, after the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of charges filed by the UMWA that the miners had been fired illegally.

The workers said they are using the picket lines to demand that the votes of the pro-UMWA miners be counted from a union representation election held at the mine December 17. Faced with a likely victory by the UMWA, C.W. Mining fired more than 30 miners, most Mexican-born, in the weeks leading up to the vote. The company alleged that many of these workers did not have valid documentation to work in the United States. The dismissed workers point out that they had been working with the same documents for years, and that their validity became an issue only on the eve of the union certification election.

Co-Op miners said they have also firmed up plans to attend the June 5 annual commemoration of the Ludlow massacre, which will take place about 75 miles south of Pueblo, Colorado. On April 20, 1914, Colorado National Guard troops and coal company thugs attacked a tent colony set up by striking miners in Ludlow, in southeastern Colorado. Twenty men, women, and children were killed, many of whom were Greek and Italian immigrants.

In 1918, the mine workers union built a memorial to the victims of the Ludlow massacre directly to the east of the pit where these workers were killed. That monument—depicting a striking miner, a woman, and a child—stood unmolested for approximately 85 years. It was vandalized two years ago, including the decapitation of the statues. At the ceremony the monument will be restored to its original state through the efforts of the UMWA. Donations for the restoration came in from around the world.

The miners were striking against the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I). John D. Rockefeller Jr., from the billionaire Rockefeller family, owned a controlling interest in the CF&I. The CF&I owned many mines and a steel mill in Pueblo at the time of the massacre.

The Sunday rededication ceremonies, which include a barbecue luncheon, start at 10:00 a.m., June 5. “We sent invitations to 500 donors, who raised more than $80,000 to restore the monuments and expect the largest turnout we’ve had in several years,” said Mike Romero, president of UMWA Local 9856 based in Trinidad. UMWA international president Cecil Roberts is expected to attend and be the keynote speaker.

The Co-Op miners also plan to send a delegation to the annual picnic of UMWA Local 1332 at the McKinley mine. The picnic, which is held in Window Rock, Arizona, will take place July 24.
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