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The Washington State Labor Council has jumped in to defend the 560 locked out Borax Miners of Boron, California, and plans to join the rally against Rio Tinto at the British Consulate in Seattle Friday at noon.

"We're converging at the British consulate because Rio Tinto is an British-based global mining goliath that's trying to starve our families and community," says Kevin Martz, who operated heavy equipment at the Boron mine until the firm threw him out of work for refusing to agree to a company ultimatum demanding workers surrender their good-paying full-time jobs for part-time temporary positions with few if any benefits.

Please attend the event at noon this Friday, April 16 outside the British Consulate in Seattle, 900 4th Ave. (4th Avenue and Marion Street). For more information about this event, contact Terri Mast of the Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific, 206-284-6001, ext. 20.

Martz will participate in the Los Angeles protest on Friday. "British companies aren't welcome when they disrespect American families and communities."  

BACKGROUND -- At 7 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2010, the Rio Tinto corporation locked out nearly 600 ILWU members at the company’s Borax mine and plant in Boron, California. Rio Tinto is a foreign-owned, mega-mining conglomerate that's trying to force a concessionary contract ultimatum onto working families and communities in California’s High Desert. The ILWU reports that Rio Tinto’s ultimatum includes:

The power to convert full-time jobs, whenever management wants, into part-time positions with little or no benefits.

Authority to reduce employee pay, any time the company wants, regardless of the contract wage rates and without any right of workers to file a grievance.  

The ability to outsource all jobs, any time it wants, to contractors and temp agencies that pay low wages and provide little or no benefits, without any right to file a worker grievance.

If Rio Tinto violates any state or federal labor laws, which it has already done, workers would be required to pay for the company's legal penalties, fines, damages and even attorney fees.

The unlawful discrimination against military personnel by denying them seniority credit for military service if they've served in the Armed Forces for less than one year or for more than four years, which constitutes a violation of federal law (USERRA). Also among the company’s demands is the elimination of the Veteran’s Day holiday starting in 2011.

The removal of scores of workers from the union contract and power to declare entire sections of the plant to be "non-union" areas where employees could be fired at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

The ability at any time to change shifts, hours and work assignments, and impose mandatory overtime, with no scheduled days-off or regular shifts, making life impossible for families.

Require workers to give up their Constitutional and legal right as Americans to go to court if the foreign-owned company discriminates based on race, sex, age, disability, military status or religion, or if it violates any other state or federal laws, including the U.S. Civil Rights Act, FMLA, ADA, ERISA, FLSA.

Under the Rio Tinto lockout contract, all legal rights would be transferred from American courts to a private arbitrator, which the company gets to pick in at least half the cases.

Authority to eliminate long term disability coverage for any new employee, which protects workers -- and provides economic security to families -- when an employee is injured and can’t work.

The drastic reduction of retirement benefits for current employees, and the total elimination of pension benefits for new employees who would only get a small 401(k) contribution.

Rio Tinto has a long and ugly history of disrespecting workers and communities here in the U.S. and around the world. Our Brothers and Sisters in Australia’s Hunter Valley are facing the same kind of outrageous demands that families are facing in Boron. In addition, Rio Tinto is currently being sued in U.S. Federal Court for mistreating the community and environment in Papua, New Guinea.

In 2009, Rio Tinto made almost $5 billion in profits, despite a world-wide recession. Several years ago, the company paid nearly $40 billion for Alcan -- a decision that left Rio Tinto heavily in debt. The company is now trying to climb out of debt by driving down the working conditions of their employees.

See you Friday at noon where we can send a message on behalf of our locked out union brothers that we are not a resource-extraction colony that can be exploited by British companies.  


For additional information on, as one dailykos commenter called them, "the worst company that no one has ever heard of", please read this article in The Nation:  

Labor War in the Mojave

and help out our 560 mining families at

Originally posted to paco and taco on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 10:17 PM PDT.

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