Taking Hecla to task

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Evidently the Lucky Friday management didn’t get the memo from Phil Baker concerning the CORESafety program Hecla adopted 4 years ago. Baker brags about it all the time so I’m sure they know what it is. On the Q&A page on Hecla’s website, Hecla makes the following statement in response to one of the questions: “The safety of our employees is our top priority and we expect all our employees to demonstrate safe work habits each and every day. Four years ago we adopted the National Mining Association’s CORESafety program, which is a risk-based management system approach which has resulted in the Lucky Friday’s safety performance substantially improving. Implementing these types of systematic tools in combination with a culture of continuous safety improvement is what makes mines safer.” Maybe the upper management at the Lucky Friday hasn’t read the webpage in light of what happened at the Lucky Friday May 2, 2017?

Now even though this CORESafety program “appears” to be the face Hecla wants the public to see, on May 2nd it was reported that the management of the Lucky Friday Mine sent salaried personnel along with outside contractors underground with only one hoist manned, which is a violation of MSHA CFR Codes. (Standard #57.11050 (a)) MSHA issued the management of the Lucky Friday a citation once they realized what they were doing. (Public information found on MSHA’s website). This as an S&S (Significant and Substantial) citation which reflects the seriousness of the violation and raises the penalty amount by quite a bit. Thank you MSHA for holding the management accountable for their actions. It may be time for you to have continual presence at the property to assure they don’t put anyone else’s safety in jeopardy. So why doesn’t their statement of safety values hold true during a strike? Hecla expects the employees to “Demonstrate safe work habits every day”, but as soon as the hourly employees are gone, they allow the safety values to go out the door. Does it take the presence of the hourly employees to hold the management of the mine accountable for enforcing the basic safety rules? Hecla, you put your salaried employees at risk and there is no excuse for it. These folks are the ones who you now lean on to keep the mine maintained. These are the folks who have no say on the negotiations and don’t dare speak their mind concerning their feelings toward company’s proposal in fear of being let go for not being part of “The Team”. They, like the hourly employees, have been disrespected by the management, except these people had the misfortune of having their safety put at risk due to a very poor decision. I can only imagine what meetings took place in order to come up with an excuse for what happened, but in reality you should have been having a meeting with those put in risk to apologize to them. I’m sure the news will come out that an apology was never offered since that seems to be the new culture of the current management.

I thought it was worthy to mention all of this now because also on Tuesday, a large crowd of Silver Valley residents gathered to honor the 91 miners who lost their lives in the 1972 Sunshine Mine fire. Along with the 91 victims, the names of men who’ve lost their lives in mining accidents over the last 45 years since the fire were also read. Many of these names were ones killed in accidents at Silver Valley Hecla properties. Careless decisions like the one at the Lucky Friday Mine could add to the list at next year’s memorial ceremony if they continue down the path they chose Tuesday.

Practice what you preach Hecla. The statement of “The safety of our employees is our top priority” carries a lot of weight when you say it with actions that back it up. Lately, the only message we get from out of your negotiation tactics is “The productivity of our employees is our top priority.”

Tuesday you made the decision to disregard the employee’s safety, so how do you expect the workforce to accept a contract that addresses a new mining method, but the safety concerns of the miners haven’t been explained to us yet? You’re asking for a giant leap of faith from a group of people who have lost their faith in the leadership of the mine.

Stay Strong 5114,

Paul Sala

Cataldo, Idaho

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