MAC: Mines and Communities

Kennecott CBC Supporters Rally at Tiffanys

Published by MAC on 2003-06-10

Kennecott CBC Supporters Rally at Tiffanys from Coast-to-Coast, Demanding Justice not Breakfast

Washington, D.C./ Denver, Col./ Portland, Ore.

Scores of high-spirited, but serious, members of the KCBC and their supporters rallied at Tiffany & Co. stores in Washington, Denver, and Portland on Tuesday, June 10, taking the message of “We Want Justice, We Don’t Want Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” across the country.

The Tiffany actions began with a successful rally in Chicago on May 9. Future rallies are scheduled to be held in Cincinnati, Miami, New York, Canada, South America and Europe. At each rally, the participants ask the store managers to present a letter to Michael J. Kowalski, the CEO of Tiffany & Co., explaining the relationship between Tiffany, KUC, its parent corporation Rio Tinto plc/Ltd. and KUC workers and communities around the globe.

In 2002, Tiffany struck a deal with Rio Tinto. Under the terms of the deal, Tiffany will annually buy over a million ounces of gold and silver from Kennecott Utah Copper (KUC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto. In 2003, the companies cut another deal in which Rio Tinto’s Diavik mining operation in Canada will supply the luxury store corporation with CD$500 million in diamonds over ten years.

Incredibly, Tiffany has tried to spin this as a “sustainable partnership.” Tiffany CEO Michael Kowalski referred to KUC facilities as “a model of environmental integrity.” Recently, Tiffany has responded to public criticism by claiming that its relationship with KUC contributes to its goal of obtaining precious metals “in ways that are environmentally responsible…”

But in fact, Kennecott has for years been the worst toxic polluter in the U.S., and KUC’s parent Rio Tinto has been cited for devastating the environment around the world. KUC and Rio Tinto are not just anti-environment; however, they’re anti-worker too, conducting aggressive de-unionization campaigns and violating workers’ rights at locations across the globe; but they recently announced the Rio Tinto’s retiring Chairman, Sir Robert Wilson can expect a US$21.9 retirement package.

Armed with this information, USWA “Women of Steel,” led the rally in Washington, and USWA Local 5668 member Joy Randolph escorted the D.C. delegation that presented the letter to Tiffany officials who were flanked by private police. “We need to stop union busting at KUC, in all Rio Tinto companies and all over the world,” Randolph said. “It’s time to stand up against corporate greed.”

Randolph was joined by USWA sisters Janice Smith (LU 5668 in spirit), Holly Johnson (LU 878L), Tina Malloy (LU 13403), Teresa Hill (LU 998), Carolyn Maston (LU 897), Sylvia Ruiz (LU 207L), Cheryl Lewis (AFL-CIO), Vicky Brelaush (LU 9477) and Shaba Andrich (AFL-CIO). Other AFL-CIO staff members and members of Jobs with Justice and the D.C. Green Party also attended.

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