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Book detailing story of Mine Mill strike of 2000-2001 will be launched

BY KEITH LACEY [email protected] If a picture says a thousand words, then a new book being launched next Wednesday focusing on the bitter seven-month strike by Local 598 of the Mine Mill/CAW four years ago, says plenty.

If a picture says a thousand words, then a new book being launched next Wednesday focusing on the bitter seven-month strike by Local 598 of the Mine Mill/CAW four years ago, says plenty.

CAW president Buzz Hargrove visited picket lines in January 2001.
Mine Mill Fights Back: Mine Mill/CAW Local 598 Strike 2000-2001 Sudbury, is a 256-page book with hundreds of pictures taken during the dispute and passages written by union members and Laurentian professors.

The 2000-2001 strike was the longest by any union against Falconbridge Ltd. in the company?s 100-year history in Sudbury.

Professors Gary Kinsman, Mercedes Steedman, Peter Sushnigg and Kaili Beck and student Chris Bowes were involved in editing and publishing the book, along with union leadership.

?A number of professors here at Laurentian were involved in strike solidarity, and eventually we had a discussion and thought it would be a really excellent idea if we used our academic skills to document one of the most important labour battles in the history of this community,? said Kinsman.

Local 598 president Rick Grylls said he couldn?t be prouder to have been involved in putting together an impressive document chronicling one of the most difficult battles in the 60-year history of Local 598.

?This was certainly one of the most difficult periods in the history of our union...The book chronicles our struggles and tough times, but ultimately our success in getting a new collective agreement which didn?t allow any of the concessions the company was demanding for so long,? said Grylls.

?The book will look back at the history of the union...and looks back briefly at the three-week strike of 2004, but it deals almost exclusively with the 2000-2001 strike.?

The book also features separate written contributions from union leaders Rolly Gauthier, Bob Beck, Moe Durocher, Sudbury lawyer Donald Kuyek and national CAW negotiators Hemi Mitic, Tom Dattilo and national president Buzz Hargrove.

Other chapters include the historical background and significance of the strike, how the strike was organized, the legal framework in which the strike occurred, including court injunctions and legal challenges, the vital participation of union retirees and even a humorous Accu-Fax Comix chapter.

Accu-Fax was the security company hired by Falconbridge to protect company property during the strike.

There were numerous incidents involving Accu-Fax staff and union members, particularly during the final three months of the dispute.

The trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows of the membership are captured in words and pictures and everyone involved in putting the book
together should be very proud, said Kinsman.

?The book looks great and I really think it?s going to be a success,? said Kinsman.

A press run of 1,000 has been ordered and it?s hoped a second press run will be needed.

The book also features ?numerous really funny stories,? said Kinsman.

One, in particular, relates an incident where several Accu-Fax security guards left their post because they thought they had seen a giant bear.

?These guys ran to the nearest picket shack and begged and pleaded for help...the union members told them they didn?t give bear awareness training and told them to leave,? said Kinsman.

Grylls said the book captures all of the emotion one would expect from such a long and bitter battle.

?It was a long and tough battle, but I think if we had to do it all over again, we most certainly would,? he said. ?Workers today only have the salaries, pensions and benefits they do because other union members from the past went on strike and fought.

?It seems once every generation in this industry, one group of workers has to sacrifice for the benefit of those in the future. Our group did a terrific job of standing in solidarity against a company determined to throw away years of collective bargaining.?

The book launch is being held in conjunction with the second Dr. Jennifer Keck Lecture Series on Social Justice, which will follow immediately after at the Joe Hill Hall, Navy League Hall (formerly the Mine Mill Hall) on Regent Street.

This year?s guest speaker is CAW economist Jim Stanford.

The book launch begins at 5 pm, with Stanford scheduled to speak at 7 pm. Everyone is invited.


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