Morenci High School - Copper Cat Yearbook (Morenci, AZ)

 - Class of 1984

Page 9 of 152


Morenci High School - Copper Cat Yearbook (Morenci, AZ) online yearbook collection, 1984 Edition, Page 9
Page 9

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Two striking copper miners stand picket duty at the main entrance to the mine. STRIKE abor dispute breeds strife, tension and turmoil Will Morenci ever be the same? This was the question many people were asking prior to the opening of the school year. Events that had oc- curred during the two-month old strike had made for a very uncertain future. The strike began on July 1 when negotiations between Phelps Dodge and the unions stalled due to dis- agreement on the cost-of-living clause. Phelps Dodge officials felt that falling copper prices made it nec- essary to cut COLA, whereas the un- ions wanted a contract similar to that negotiated by Kennecott. In the past, strikes had been un- eventful as PD shut down their oper- ations while negotiations went on. This time, however, Phelps Dodge continued operating using salaried personnel working two twelve-hour shifts. As the weeks passed and the num- ber of day's pay employees choosing to cross the picket line increased, so did tension in the town. Strikers gath- ered in increasing numbers along the road to the plant, shouting at those employees who continued to work during the strike. Tempers reached a boiling point in August with the company's an- nouncement that it would begin hiring outside workers to fill jobs left vacant by the strikers. For three nights Mor- enci was on the verge of a disaster as carloads of strikers and their families rallied throughout town venting their anger on all nonstrikers. Then, on Monday morning, August 8, striking miners caused the closure of the em- ployment office. An estimated 1, OOO men, women, and children gathered along U.S. 666 preventing the even- ing shift change. Governor Bruce Babbitt flew to the area late that evening to meet with company offi- cials and union representatives. At the request of the Governor, and faced with the possibility of forced closure by violence, PD officials agreed Tuesday morning, August 9, to a ten-day shutdown and cooling-off period. In the early morning hours of Thursday, August 18, local residents were awakened by the sound of heli- copters flying over the townsite as a convoy of National Guard units rolled into town. Joined by hundreds of DPS officers, the troops prepared for pos- sible violence when the mine re- opened the following day, August 19. Although the presence of the Na- tional Guard and DPS officers pre- vented further mass demonstrations and the mine reopened without inci- dence, the resentment by strikers of those who crossed the picket line per- sisted. The strike was far from over when school opened on August 29 and parents, teachers, and adminis- trators alike wondered what effect the events of the summer would have on the school year. Strike 5

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