Strike will hurt all of Silver Valley

Print Article

United Steelworkers Union Local 5114 unanimously rejected Hecla Mining Company’s last and best offer. When Hecla went ahead Monday and implemented the wage and benefit changes it had offered, the workers struck.

Hecla, based in Coeur d’Alene, didn’t waste time putting the predicament in perspective.

“The decision by the local union to strike benefits no one,” Phillips S. Baker, Jr., Hecla’s president and CEO, said in a press release issued first thing Monday morning.

Though he might be reluctant to admit it, union president Phil Epler agreed.

“The longer this goes, the more it hurts everybody,” he said.

The standoff means 27 bargaining sessions over some 10 months were basically wasted exercises. Work on the Lucky Friday mine comes to a halt, depriving the company of income. The strike brings employment for some 250 miners to a halt, depriving them and their families of income. Now the waiting game begins, with both sides indicating they’re prepared to wait it out over the long haul.

But here’s the problem: The lack of work and income represents a serious blow not just to the company and to the miners, but to the Silver Valley as a whole. According to Hecla, Lucky Friday has been an economic boon for the entire region, pumping almost $1 billion into the Silver Valley economy over the past five years. That works out to about $3.85 million a week. When you consider the Silver Valley businesses that keep their noses just a little above water even during decent economic times, think about what the loss of several million bucks a week will mean to many merchants.

Strikes happen, and in most cases, they end with both sides conceding more than they’d have liked. It’s our hope that this strike doesn’t last long, as we agree the lost productivity benefits nobody. The strike might, in fact, force Hecla to move more quickly toward automation and other advances that will end up displacing some of the striking employees. And it will no doubt hold the company back at the beginning of its 126th year, delaying progress at Hecla’s most expensive mine to operate.

In the meantime, those of us in the greater Coeur d’Alene area should feel free to patronize Silver Valley businesses as much as our time and budgets allow. Spring is nearly here, and the Silver Valley offers lots to see and do after just a short drive.

Let’s help our neighbors and have some fun at the same time.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Time to ground the helicopters

June 25, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press ‘Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.’ — Yogi Berra • • • The image of a helicopter parent is laughable, at least until you think what kind...

Comments

Read More

Ironing out a political cheap shot

June 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press John Stone got his own billboard, too. Only instead of his comeuppance appearing on a lighted sign somewhere, Stone’s arrived Tuesday night in the form of a verbal lashing from longtime Coeur d’Alen...

Comments

Read More

Cd’A scores with interim super hire

June 21, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Coeur d’Alene School District took a big, bold and very temporary step in the right direction by hiring Dr. Stanley Olson. Olson is assuming the title of interim superintendent, meaning he’s going t...

Comments

Read More

Welcome to Idaho, the preschool fool

June 18, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Most of us can agree that in an ideal home, children are fully prepared to attend school and will keep up with their peers every step of the way. Most of us can probably also agree that many homes a...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X