American silver producer Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL) has ramped up production at its Lucky Friday mine, in northern Idaho, amid an ongoing strike by unionized workers over proposed changes to work assignments, health care benefits, vacation scheduling and bonus pay tied to silver prices.
The 33-month labour action, the longest in the Silver Valley region, has not stopped the company from bringing Lucky Friday back to normal operations. Such move, Hecla said, has implied the hiring of hourly workers who, combined with some of the firm’s salaried workforce, run the mine on a limited basis this year.
United Steelworkers Local 5114 voted on Monday night against a tentative deal reached in November.
With the agreement voted down, Hecla’s president and chief executive, Phillips S. Baker, said the company would move forward without the union workers.
“We will now accelerate hiring and utilizing contractors with the goal of reaching full production by year-end 2020,” Baker said in the statement. “After three years of negotiating we believe the best interests of the company and community is the Lucky Friday in full operation.”
The deep underground silver, lead, and zinc mine, located in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District of northern Idaho, has been in operations since 1942.
Hecla reported at the end of 2018 that the strike had cost the company $14.6 million. That year, Lucky Friday produced 169,041 ounces of silver.