MAC: Mines and Communities

Kennecott workers file suit against Rio Tinto

Published by MAC on 2003-07-15

Kennecott workers file suit against Rio Tinto

July 2003

Salt Lake City, Utah/USA ­ Leaders of the Kennecott Coordinated Bargaining Committee (KCBC) and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) announced July 15 that the union coalition at the Utah-based Rio Tinto plc/Ltd subsidiary - Kennecott Utah Copper Corp. ­ filed Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) charges with the Denver, Colo. regional office of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The coalition-filed charges allege that “the company has discriminated against…identified employees by laying them off in retaliation for their support for a labor organization and for engaging in protected concerted activities.” In addition to ULPs, the KCBC unions are filing a series of formal grievances for alleged violations of a newly-signed labor agreement between Rio Tinto’s KUCC and coalition unions.

The ULP charges and grievances were filed on behalf of members of the USWA, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the International Union of OperatingEngineers (IUOE). The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) also filed charges separately.

On June 23, the company and unions settled a six-year labor agreement, ratified by a 4-1 margin, that ended an eight-month-long labor dispute that did not yield any work stoppages, but was bitterly fought. Two days later, Rio Tinto’s Utah managers summarily laid off 120 union members. The KCBC claimed “targeted retaliation” and vowed to mount a worldwide campaign to “reverse the outrage.”

“The filing of labor charges and grievances is just part of the next stage of our Campaign for Justice,” said USWA District 12 Director Terry L. Bonds, who heads the KCBC. “Last Sept. 30, when KUCC managers slipped what they called their ‘last best and final offer’ under our doors in the middle of the night, we vowed that we would not accept that insult. We fought them for more than eight months, and we negotiated a deal approved by 80 percent of the eligible voters.”

“Only two days later, local company officials reneged on the deal and laid off more than 120 people in blatant violation of the agreement, U.S. labor law and basic human decency,” added USWA International President Leo Gerard. “Apparently they think that the members of the coalition and the citizens of the Salt Lake area are some kind of a joke,” Gerard continued.

“Well, we take our members’ lives and futures - and the future of the community - quite seriously,” Gerard added. “This latest horrific action by Rio Tinto’s local agents has, and will have, serious consequences in Salt Lake City, London and Melbourne (where Rio Tinto is headquartered). They will be hearing from the KCBC, the Rio Tinto Global Network and our other allies across North America and around the world.” (Copperhead News)

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info