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United Steelworkers union rejects binding arbitration to end Hecla Mining strike

Louisville, Kentucky — The local United Steelworkers union late Wednesday rejected a proposal to enter into binding arbitration with Hecla Mining to settle a strike at the Lucky Friday zinc, lead and silver mine near Mullan, Idaho.

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The strike will hit the one-year mark next week, the union said.

Union members voted 123 to 51 against binding arbitration, USW Local 5114 said on its Facebook page.

"We have chosen to remain on strike rather than let someone else decide our future," Dave Roose, the local union president, said.

Union members voted by secret ballot during the past week and votes were counted Wednesday night.

Last month, union officials and Hecla, based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, agreed to submit the labor dispute to a three-member arbitration team if union members agreed. Arbitrators would have selected from separate offers made by the company and union, with both sides bound by the outcome.

Had that happened, the strike would have ended by May.

Now, the work stoppage that began March 13, 2017, continues, with no end in sight.

The main sticking point is who would control job bidding and work assignments, the company or the union, at the mine. Company officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

--Bob Matyi,
--Edited by E Shailaja Nair,