Along the Gila: Mine Agreement At Last

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San Manuel Fire District board member Danny Riekofski and Chief John Stanford at the Kearny Town Council meeting last month. Kearny will be dispatching for SMFD.

The United Steelworkers announced last Thursday, September 21, that a collective bargaining agreement was ratified covering ASARCO copper mine operations in Arizona and Texas, including the Ray Mine and the Hayden Smelter. The agreement covers about 2,000 workers.

  The agreement has been a long time coming. The original contract ended in June of 2013 but was extended until it was terminated in June, 2015. The workers stayed on the job without a contract while negotiations continued. The new agreement will expire on Nov. 30, 2018.

  I haven’t read the agreement, but I understand there was some give and take. The miners will pay more of their insurance themselves, but the mine is restoring some of the bonuses. The short period of the agreement seems to bring a “breathing period” for both ASARCO and the unions to focus on a longer term agreement in the future.

  Grupo Mexico, which owns ASARCO and several copper mines in Mexico and South America, controls 70 percent of the railroads in Mexico. Last August it reported consolidated sales for the first six months of the year at $4.51 billion (up 13% over the same time last year) and a net profit of $801 million.

  Small towns can do well, but only if there is enough employment. No one wants to return to the old company town model, but at its best it fostered a tradition of mining pride, self-worth, and dignity. Back then, the result was that the mines had a reliable and trained workforce, and the workforce could support families and town activities, including schools. Yes, we don’t want the old company town, but do need the re-engagement of the towns and the mines. Maybe this new agreement will be the breather we all need.

  The Kearny Town Council, at the meeting of Monday, September 18, approved a contract with Police Chief Wallace Kenney, and also entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the San Manuel Fire Department to provide dispatch services for their use. In return, the San Manuel Fire Department will pay $7,500 per year to Kearny for expenses.

  The Town Council also approved the submission of three grants. The first is request to the San Carlos Apache Tribe for the costs of a new ambulance; the second is to Arizona State Parks and Trail for monies to rebuild the Mescal Mountain Park facilities after they were vandalized; and the third is to Fire House Subs (yep, the Valley sandwich place) for metal shelters for some of our fire equipment.

  Kudos to the Kearny Police Department for enforcing the local codes, especially for wrong-side parking and for speed violations. These are simple matters of keeping the public safe. Local laws exist for local betterment, and there are some others which the town will soon begin enforcing more closely.

  We’re almost into October. Groups, businesses, and individual are being asked by the Copper Basin Chamber of Commerce to help with the Great Pumpkin and Trick or Trunk on Saturday, October 28, on Alden Road in Kearny. Chamber Director Kellie Towne is eager to get us all involved.

Sam Hosler (69 Posts)


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