Strikers file representation petition with NLRB
|A striker stands with a sign near a tarp and wood shantee they use for protection against the sun and weather in Huntington Canyon. Workers continue to picket despite the strike going into it's eighth month.|
Eight months after being escorted by sheriff's deputies off a miner property and allegedly being fired in violation of U.S. Labor Law by members of the C.W. Mining Company, the locked out/striking Co-Op coal miners have filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board Regional Office in Denver, Colo. The petition was filed on behalf of the Co-Op employees by the United Mine Workers of America, International Union.
"Hopefully, we will soon be able to exercise our democratic right to choose a real union to represent us," said striking Co-Op miner Jesus Salazar.
For years, some of these miners have reportedly been forced to pay dues to a company dominated "union" that most of them did not know existed until it surfaced during the current labor dispute.
Mike Dalpiaz, UMWA International Executive Board Member from Price said, "there is a lawfully requisite open-window period in the so-called contract that these miners toil under where a real union can file a representation petition in an attempt to challenge or supplant the one currently recognized by the NLRB. The most likely scenario will be a labor board ordered and supervised election in which these workers will have the opportunity to choose UMWA representation."
The miners say that they were illegally fired by the Kingston owned mine on Sept. 22, 2004 when they stopped work to protest the what they term as a set up and discharge of co-worker Bill Estrada.
Estrada had contacted the UMWA in an effort to allegedly improve underground working conditions, the wage scale at the mine which reportedly is between $5.25 to $7 per hour with no health care or pension benefits and the constant threat of discharge if any miner contacted any Federal or State agency concerning working conditions or employment laws.
The law dispute has drawn widespread attention and support from across a broad segment of the American labor, immigrant, and religious and social justice movements.
The CW Mining management says that Estrada was discharged for not doing his job, which included inspecting a ventilation system. They also say that the miners already have a viable union in the mine.
The mine also claims the workers who say they are on strike just didn't show up to work for three days and the mine management assumed they had quit because of that.
The mine continues to operate despite the strikers standing daily on the road to the mine in Huntington Canyon.