Company, union members from Idaho mine reach final agreement

January 7, 2020 GMT

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Members of a union representing workers at an Idaho mine have voted in favor of a settlement agreement ending a two-and-half year strike.

United Steelworkers Local 5114 accepted a proposal by Hecla Mining Company after voting 86-78 in favor of the agreement, The Spokesman-Review reported Monday.

The agreement comes after a tentative proposal was rejected by a majority of union members in November, union officials said. Hecla Mining said after the rejection that it would accelerate the hiring of more employees including contract workers, with a goal of reaching full production at the mine by the end of this year.

United Steelworkers represent about 200 workers at the Lucky Friday Mine near Mullan, Idaho, officials said.

The union and company met again in December to discuss concerns in a five-hour bargaining meeting, officials said.

Under the agreement, employees are expected to return in stages following physical and drug screen tests and be provided reasonable accommodations for prestrike positions including a $1,000 signing bonus, officials said.

Union members went on strike in March 2017 because of proposed changes to work assignments, health care benefits, vacation scheduling and bonus pay tied to silver prices, representatives said.

The strike cost the company more than $14 million last year, a company report said. Silver production at the mine decreased by about 670,000 ounces (19,000 kilograms) since the strike started in 2017, a report said.