Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Workers locked out at Inland Empire borax mine

Public Radio's Marketplace reported the story yesterday, with the dateline Boron, California, population 2,025. Here's an excerpt about the dispute between Rio Tinto, the mine's owner, and the workers, who comprise more than a quarter of Boron's population:
But Deal [of the mine's management team] says Rio Tinto needs labor flexibility to stay competitive. The company has lost 25 percent of its share in the global borax market, due in large part to competition from a government-owned mine in Turkey. Rio Tinto General Manager Dean Gehring says the company's proposed changes to the labor contract would actually benefit the local economy.

"The best way that we can preserve jobs here for the long term and make our business as successful as possible is to have this new contract, update our business, update our business practices. That's going to preserve more jobs and help the community more than continuing to operate under the old contract."
Meanwhile, the miners are reaching beyond Boron to the union's 42,000 members. A caravan of vehicles from Los Angeles, 100 miles to the southwest, is set to bring about $30,000 worth of food and supplies to the locked out workers.

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