PITTSBURGH, March 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today issued a statement of support for the more than 4,000 members of Los Mineros, the Mexican mining and steelworkers' union, who began a strike against ArcelorMittal in the Mexican city of Lázaro Cárdenas.
The strike began at noon Friday, March 4, despite the refusal of Mexico's Federal Labor Board (JFCA) to process a legal strike demand presented by the union. The Labor Board's inaction exposes the striking workers to the threat of repression.
Ten years ago on April 20, 2006, a police assault on striking members of Los Mineros killed two union members. Since then, USW members have joined the Miners every year in Mexico in a march to commemorate the victims.
In a letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, USW President Leo W. Gerard wrote: "I respectfully ask you as the head of the Executive Branch to ensure that the right to strike is respected, that no acts of repression are committed against the workers, and that the JFCA makes every effort to establish a dialogue between the parties that will enable a just and peaceful resolution of this conflict. The USW, which has close relationships with both the union and the company, will do all that we can to support such a resolution."
The government's use of the Labor Boards to repress independent union organizing has become a major issue in the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the U.S., with opponents arguing that the TPP does nothing to protect the right of Mexican workers to organize and win higher wages.
"Just last month United Technologies announced it was closing two plants in Indiana and shipping 2,100 good Steelworkers jobs to Mexico," said USW International Vice President Tom Conway. "As long as the Mexican government is allowed to break strikes and bust democratic unions, there is no way we can achieve a level playing field."
The USW is currently in negotiations with ArcelorMittal over contracts covering 13,000 steelworkers in the United States. The union has offered measures to increase productivity, but the company has insisted on making its workers pay the cost of the global crisis in steel production.
"Any attempt by ArcelorMittal or the Mexican government to repress the Mineros strike would send a terrible message to ArcelorMittal's workers not only in the United States, but around the world," said Dave McCall, director of USW District 1 and chairman of the USW negotiating committee.
For a copy of the USW's letter, visit: www.usw.org/news/pdfs/LeoLetterPenaNieto2016.pdf
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors, including 2,200 members at 12 ATI locations. For more information: http://www.usw.org and http://www.usw.org/act/campaigns/ati-bargaining
CONTACT: Benjamin Davis: (412) 562-2501
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)