Hearings on a federal labor complaint against Tucson-based copper miner Asarco LLC have been delayed, even as the company’s unions press new charges in the aftermath of a nearly nine-month strike that ended last summer.
The National Labor Relations Board has temporarily postponed hearings on its unfair labor practices complaint against Asarco, which were slated to start Oct. 19.
The case is based on charges filed by the United Steelworkers and six other labor unions representing about 1,800 members who went on strike at Asarco sites in Arizona and Texas in 2019 after accusing the company of bad-faith bargaining and multiple alleged unfair labor practices.
The postponement resulted from new guidance from the NLRB’s general counsel, compelling regional NLRB directors to submit certain matters to the agency’s Division of Advice, the union said.
The director of the Phoenix-based NLRB Region 28 has submitted its case against Asarco to the Division of Advice to review a question concerning the company’s allegedly unlawful refusal to bargain and implementation of its “last, best and final” contract offer, the union said.
In April, the NLRB regional director issued a fourth consolidated complaint against Asarco based on union complaints of multiple allegedly illegal practices, including bad-faith bargaining, unilaterally changing working conditions and failing to reinstate workers returning from the strike last summer.
It’s unclear when the NLRB will reschedule the hearings, which had already been postponed from initial dates in June and August.
Meanwhile, the Steelworkers filed a new unfair labor practice charge against Asarco over the company’s announced Sept. 15 terminations of previously laid-off workers, mainly at the company’s smelter in Hayden and a refinery in Amarillo, Texas. The Steelworkers said Asarco unilaterally limited the period in which workers have the right to be recalled to 12 months, down from 36 months in the last collective bargaining agreement that expired in 2018.
The overall number of Asarco strikers who have been recalled to their jobs was not immediately available.
United Steelworkers spokesman Tony Montana said that while many of the strikers have been recalled to their jobs, some workers, mainly at Hayden and Amarillo, have been unlawfully terminated.