As 2,000 ASARCO workers go into the third week of their strike, Torres Consulting & Law Group continues to monitor the impact this strike is having on the workers, their families, and the close-knit mining communities throughout Southeastern Arizona. We visited the company’s Hayden Complex earlier this month and met UA Local 469 member Ken Small and his family who were on the picket line protesting unfair labor practices.
As a highly skilled and experienced pipefitter, Small installs and maintains complex pipe systems that are essential to the mine’s operations, especially the tailings ponds. Small, a 13-year employee of the mining company, is one of nearly 2,000 workers who are on strike at the company’s five facilities in Arizona and Texas. Small and his coworkers walked off the job after contract negotiations came to a stop in mid-October.
Like his fellow brothers and sisters from the seven unions that are on strike, Small has been working at the mine without a contract for almost a year. Small says they are fighting for fair wages, safe working conditions, and benefits that help their families thrive. As a single parent, he endures long hours and often grueling conditions in the Arizona heat all to make a better life for his four children.
Small points out that he doesn’t have any family in Arizona so it’s up to him to do everything he can for his kids. His children have joined him on the picket line to hold signs and wave at supporters who honk their horns as they drive down Highway 177.
When jobsite safety and worker training are weakened, and cost of living wages are ignored, workers, their families, and the entire community suffers. ASARCO workers deserve a contract that guarantees them a safe working environment and livable wages, and gives their families opportunities to grow.
A prolonged strike not only will cause financial hardships for the workers and their families, but also will impact the community and small businesses in the mining towns within Gila, Pinal and Pima counties. The ripple effects of the strike will be felt throughout Southeastern Arizona as families tighten their belts and stop spending money at local businesses, and reduce their participation in school and community activities.
Ken Small and his fellow workers say they just want the company to give them a fair contract and a safe place to work so they can raise their families in the communities they’ve come to love.
TCLG agrees with Small and that’s why we stand with ASARCO workers. We fight every day for policies that protect workers’ rights, ensure fair wages, and promote safe working conditions. We encourage you to follow the ASARCO strike in the media, show your support for the workers, and take an active role in supporting policies and organizations that strengthen our community’s commitment to working families.