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OCAW SALT MINERS' 11-MONTH STRIKE DEADLOCKED OVER HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUE

 OCAW SALT MINERS' 11-MONTH STRIKE DEADLOCKED
 OVER HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUE
 CLEVELAND, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- As a work stoppage by 150 underground rock salt miners against Morton Salt stretches into its 11th month, their union charges that the company's objective is to force its workers to endure unlimited hours of work in the mine, more than a half-mile beneath the surface of Lake Erie. The Morton Salt mine and mill, whose workers are represented by the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW Local 7-967), is located near Cleveland at Fairport Harbor.
 "There has to be a limit on how long these people must work under these kinds of conditions," said OCAW Vice President L. Calvin Moore. "They have such protections in their existing agreement, but the company is dead set on removing them," he said, explaining that the union won limits of 10 hours a day and 50 hours per week in a previous strike several years ago. Prior to then, the company's practice was to work the miners upwards of 60 hours per week, Moore said.
 "We're convinced that such lengthy hours of work in a mine almost 3,000 feet deep, extending one or two miles out underneath the lake, contribute to more frequent accidents as well as unbearable physical and emotional stress," said Moore, "So we'll continue to help them stand up for reasonable health and safety standards. Their job environment in the depths of this mine is unique, and should be recognized as such."
 Moore says Morton Salt has "mistakenly misinterpreted" a number of concessions the miners have made to meet the company's stated need for more overtime work as a sign of union weakness and surrender. "As a result, Morton's managers have decided to go for broke, completely stripping the miners' basic protections away from them."
 OCAW and the company have been meeting with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to work out a settlement, but little progress has been made because of the company's stance on the hours-of-work issue, Moore acknowledges. "While agreement appears possible on a number of other issues, the demand by the company for the right to work its people for 60 or more hours a week has to be resolved for an overall settlement to be possible."
 Meanwhile, support by organized labor for the striking miners is spreading. Last week, some 30 salt mine workers from other unions, including representatives of Morton Salt workers at other locations, met with Local 7-967 members to discuss upcoming support activities. "This support will soon materialize in some concrete ways," said Moore.
 -0- 3/17/92
 /CONTACT: Rod Rogers of OCAW, 303-987-2229/ CO: Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union; Morton Salt ST: Ohio IN: SU:


MC -- DV003 -- 8645 03/17/92 09:02 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 17, 1992
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