The Business Journal of North Idaho editorial staff, like most residents of the region, was excited and hopeful when union miners cast their ballots on a reasonable labor agreement hammered out by committees for the company and United Steelworkers Union 5114.
Ballots were due on a Friday the 13th (of December). Maybe we should have heeded that ominous warning, because sure enough, union members rejected the fair offer 80-71.
So instead of miners getting back to work promptly, a slower and more difficult ramp-up toward full production by the end of 2020 is now under way. Regrettably, the 80 naysayers made a tremendously negative decision not just for themselves, but for the entire Silver Valley and many others who are fans of the Coeur d’Alene-based mining company.
After enduring 44 months of strike, Hecla is now poised to do what it must: Hire people who are eager for the challenging but highly rewarding jobs that are now open. The Lucky Friday Mine outside Mullan has been kept minimally operational by dedicated employees and contractors, but needs to get back to full production.
The Business Journal of North Idaho appreciates the strong economic impact and good jobs Hecla has provided the region for well over a century. Here’s to a great start on the new year.