Mediation is the Next Step for Locked-Out Talc Mine Workers in Missoula
Thursday, October, 4, 2018
The 33 locked-out union workers from the Imerys America Talc Mill in Missoula, MT, and representatives from the mill are headed to mediation hoping to resolve their issues as soon as possible.
After six weeks of picketing 24-7 outside of the mill, the workers want the professional mediator to make negotiations possible with their employer. The workers ran out of health insurance coverage on August 1st and the lock out began the following day.
The mediator will bring both sides together to discuss the issues involved in the dispute. The lock out began after the union members elected against the final contract offer given to them by the mine. The two sides had been trying to get a new contract in place for several weeks.
Since the lock out began, workers have been outside picketing at the entrance. The mill continues to operate with replacement employees. Several government officials and politicians have visited the picket line since the lock out began.
Though there are several issues involved in the lock-out, which began with the rejection of the contract, health insurance is one of the major concerns of union members and mill workers, because of the risks the workers face working in a talc mill. Talc can be an extremely dangerous substance and if exposed to it long-term, there is an increased risk for developing cancer. Union members find it imperative that workers have health care coverage before returning to their jobs and that the coverage be reasonable and affordable.