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Nation’s Longest Ongoing Strike Comes to an End After 1,029 Days

Jan. 9, 2020, 4:08 PM

About 200 United Steelworkers miners are back on the job at Idaho’s Lucky Friday mine after nearly three years on strike, putting an end to the longest-running continuous strike in the U.S.

The workers ratified a contract with Hecla Mining Co., the mine’s owner, on Jan. 6 after they narrowly rejected another deal in December due to reservations about the conditions of returning to work, according to USW spokesperson Tony Montana.

“Our members’ strength and determination to resist Hecla’s unfair demands has been rewarded with a contract that’ll set union members up for future success,” Montana said.

USW Local 5114 began the strike March 13, 2017, after the company attempted to unilaterally impose parts of a new contract on workers. The USW filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the company’s actions and the two parties reached an informal settlement in the summer of 2018, agreeing to good faith negotiations.

In all, workers stayed off the job for about 1,029 days. That’s longer than any other ongoing strike, according to records from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a federal agency that tracks work stoppages.

Work stoppages lasted an average of 41.1 days over the past decade, according to Bloomberg Law data. There were about 1,320 work stoppages from January 2010 through December 2019.

New Record Holder

The title of longest continuous U.S. work stoppage now passes to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 in the New York City area. The union went on strike against Charter Communications-owned cable and internet provider Spectrum on March 28, 2017.

The union and company are involved in an entrenched dispute that hinges on an employee-initiated motion to dump the union. A decertification vote was taken last year and the results are pending before the NLRB.

The effort to decertify Spectrum’s union may ultimately be tossed out after NLRB Regional Director John J. Walsh Jr., said in August that a recording of the company interfering in the vote could “warrant setting aside the results of the election.”

Attorneys for the union and company requested expedited review of the vote count in October, but the board in Washington hasn’t issued a decision.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Wallender in Washington at awallender@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com

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