On February 24th, a caravan of four big rig trucks and around 150 cars
carried over 200 people and $30,000 in food to support the Rio Tinto
miners in Boron, California.
The supporters drove in a "parade" up into the main street of Boron, 20
Mule Team Road, named for the famous 20-mule teams that used to haul
the borax from the mines. Older readers may remember the 20 mule
team as sponsors of Death Valley Days, with Ronald Reagan. The
community came out to wave to the caravan, and we waved back.
Then, the caravan went to the mine, so the company and the cops could
see our demonstration of support. Returning to the union hall, we
unloaded the food into the hall, which has been transformed into a kind
of food bank for the locked out workers.
The situation for the miners is difficult. The company has locked
the miners out of the mine, and has brought in scab workers -
unemployed people hired, temporarily, to do the miner's jobs. Rio
Tinto, a multinational company HQd in London and Perth AUS, with
operations across the globe, is the fourth largest mining company in
the world. They are attempting to rid the mines of the
traditional contract, which has been modified for decades, and has
offered up a contract that cuts into workers seniority protections,
institutes a system of "merit pay" not subject to peer oversight, and
also allows Rio Tinto to transfer workers to other mines.
Such a contract would have a potentially devastating and destabilizing
effect on the local community, which appears to need all the stability
it can get. So, the miners are holding strong to retain their
contract, or important parts of it. If they cave in, it'll be bad
for miners all throught the company. That's why miners in
Australia had a demonstration at Rio Tinto HQ in support.
That's why this strike has resonated with so many people. The
turnout at the union hall was difficult to guesstimate, because things were so spread out. People were also driving up from Palmdale and Lancaster, and some activists and
media people from Los Angeles. It was at least 700 people, maybe 1,000.
Among the media people was Joan Sekler, one of the IMC founders, who
was making a video about the lockout. She is looking for
assistance, and needs a boom mic operator. If you know someone
interested, contact her at email@example.com.
The photo shows the approach to ilwu 30's union hall, which is in the middle of the panorama. It's the small-looking gray building.