Monday, July 11, 2005

Truckers to honor strike at Asarco

A national company that moves freight for Asarco LLC confirmed Wednesday that its drivers won't cross picket lines at the Tucson-based company's operations in Arizona and Texas.
"Our drivers are Teamsters, and they're honoring the strike, so we do not have any that are willing to cross the lines," said Zachary Lacombe, Tucson branch manager for ABF Freight System Inc., 2943 E. Wieding Road.
The local center has 12 drivers who would normally be hauling supplies in and out of Asarco's Mission Mine near Sahuarita and Silver Bell Mine near Marana, Lacombe said. Drivers for the company's Phoenix service center, which serves Asarco's Hayden Mill and Smelter and Ray Mine, were also declining to haul freight, he said.
"It's a tough situation that we'll have to kind of play by ear, because if the strike lasts long enough, we'll have to contract some of the company's shipments out," Lacombe said.
ABF is one of many local suppliers and contractors for Asarco that are grappling with the 6-day-old strike. About 1,500 workers have walked out of the company's Amarillo, Texas, refinery and all its Arizona operations: a mill and a smelter in Hayden and the Ray, Mission and Silver Bell mines.
While the strike will affect local businesses that supply and service Asarco operations and equipment, most of those businesses should have enough other customers to weather it, said Randy Walker, general manager of Sonoran Process Equipment Co., 1687 W. Grant Road, which repairs components for Asarco's mills.
"They're probably about 10 percent of our business, but we pretty much position ourselves so we can't get hit too hard with strikes or other problems like this," Walker said. "But we don't want to lose them as a customer and we want to get this strike solved as soon as possible."
Another local company that services equipment at Asarco's operations at the Mission and Ray mines and the Hayden Smelter may actually see more business due to the strike, its owner said.
"It could be that since they're running at lower manpower that they're going to have to sub (subcontract) more stuff out," said Ralph Scaramella, owner of Hydraulic Systems Inc., 4617 S. Contractors Way.
Despite a possible uptick in his company's business, Scaramella said he was hoping for a quick resolution to the strike.
"I really hope it ends soon, because it makes it tough not only for small companies that service the mines but on all these small towns that rely so much on them," he said.

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