Lucky Friday Miners strike over contract issues

Lucky Friday Miners strike over...

"You know, we all take pride in working with the mine. We all take pride in working for Hecla. Hecla's been a great steward of the community. It's unfortunate that this is happening."

Local 5114 president Phil Epler wasn't thrilled that his fellow union members were holding signs rather than working Monday morning. However, since the collective bargaining agreement with Hecla Mining expired last spring, a new contract has not been signed.

"We've had 27 meetings over the last 10-12 months," explained Luke Russell, Hecla VP of External Affairs. "We've gotten to this point where we're not in agreement, and (Sunday night) the union told us they were striking.”

There are two principal hold ups at the negotiation table. First, Hecla is looking to reform vacation policies and holiday pay - changes the union does not deem necessary. Second is to essentially shift scheduling in assignments; or deciding who works where and when.

Both sides seek control over personnel decisions.

While Hecla and Local 5114 both want to resume production as soon as possible, both sides seem firmly set in their corners.

"If Hecla's done anything throughout the last 9 or 10 months of bargaining," declared Rick Norman, a 38 year Lucky Friday Mine veteran, "they've brought this union together like I've never seen."