Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Springsteen, Teamster trucks -- what's not to love?

This actually happened two years ago, but we stumbled across the video and couldn't resist posting it. It tells the story of how Teamster solidarity helped California borax miners beat a British multinational in a 3-1/2-month battle against corporate greed.

The story began, as so many do, at contract negotiation time. Mining conglomerate Rio Tinto demanded the right to convert full-time jobs to part-time, gut seniority, cut pay whenever it felt like it and outsource.

The borax miners refused. And so on Jan. 31, 2010, Rio Tinto locked out all 570 of them and brought in scabs.

The Los Angeles Times reported,
The dispute fractured the town of 2,000 on the western edge of the Mojave Desert, where borax, a mineral used in detergents, cosmetics and fiberglass, was discovered in 1925. 
The miners' contract expired in November. On Jan. 31, after more than four months of negotiations, Rio Tinto brought in replacement workers. 
Since then, miners have congregated outside the mine gates, heckling those who crossed their picket line. At times, they have argued in restaurants with mine officials. 
The lockout hammered Boron, whose economy and population are linked to the mine. Doctors and nurses offered free medical screenings for uninsured workers. Donated food was handed out at the union hall. As the lockout continued, many businesses reported struggling to stay afloat, and residents were asking creditors to defer car and mortgage payments.
As the video shows (sorry, but you have to watch it on youtube), a caravan of Teamster semis brought tons of food from the docks of Los Angeles to the struggling workers in Boron. And if the photos of those Teamster trucks don't inspire you, we don't think anything will.

The company finally caved, agreeing to a 6-year contract that included wage increases and a signing bonus.

As someone posted on youtube, "Much respect to the workers of Boron."