(Salt Lake City, Utah) – Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) employed in the United States who mine the metal used in Olympic medals are expressing their solidarity with locked-out Quebec workers. USW Local 392 wants Rio Tinto “Off the Podium” for this summer’s London 2012 Olympics.
USW Local 392 represents the workers at Rio Tinto subsidiary Kennecott Utah Copper’s operations in Utah where 99 per cent of the metal used to produce the Olympic medals was mined.
“USW Local 392 members take great pride in the world-class work they do,” says Wayne Holland Jr., the staff representative for USW Local 392, in a letter he sent recently to Larry Probst, Chairman of the United States Olympic Committee.
“However, we completely reject the way that Rio Tinto is treating workers in Alma, Quebec. Likewise, we feel it is wrong that Rio Tinto be allowed to associate itself with the Olympic principle of fair play and with the London Games’ commitment to sustainability while treating its workers in Alma as it has.”
“For five months our workers in Alma have stood strong against Rio Tinto. Backed by this support from our colleagues in Utah, we are even more determined to keep up the fight,” said Daniel Roy, USW Quebec Director.
On New Year’s Eve, 2011, Rio Tinto illegally locked out 780 USW members in Alma, Quebec. Workers in Alma were thrown out in the cold for resisting Rio Tinto’s attempt to replace retiring unionized workers with precariously employed subcontractors earning half the wages, no pension and no benefits. Some of the workers who were exposed to beryllium that night were forcibly removed from their jobs before they could undergo decontamination procedures.
“As Chairman of the USOC, we urge you to uphold the ethical standards promoted by the Olympic Games and ensure that this summer’s Olympians can wear their hard won medals with pride by getting Rio Tinto Off the Podium,” writes Holland Jr. in the letter to Probst.
For more info on the Off the Podium campaign and a copy of the letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee, please see www.offthepodium.org.
The USW represents about 850,000 working men and women in the United States and Canada in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glass making to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber and other manufacturing environments, to the public sector, service and health care industries. For more: www.usw.org
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