The biggest hole in California, with the exception of the current state budget, is Rio Tinto's huge open-pit mine at the town of Boron, near Edwards Air Force Base, eighty miles northeast of Los Angeles.
Seen from Google Earth, it is easy to imagine that the 700-foot-deep crater was blasted out of the Mojave Desert by an errant asteroid or comet. From the vantage point of Highway 58, however, the landscape is enigmatic: a mile-long rampart of ochre earth and gray mudstone, terminating at what looks like a giant chemical refinery.
At night, when a driver's mind is most prone to legends of the desert, the complex's intense illumination is startling, even slightly extraterrestrial, like the sinister off-world mining colony in Aliens.
The company wants a contract that would allow it to capriciously promote or demote; to outsource union jobs; to convert full-time to part-time positions with little or no benefits; to reorganize shift schedules without warning; to eliminate existing work rules; to cut holidays, sick leave and pension payments; to impose involuntary overtime; and to heavily penalize the union if workers file grievances against the company with the National Labor Relations Board.
Rio Tinto, in essence, claims the right to rule by divine whim, to blatantly discriminate against and even fire employees for felonies like "failing to have or maintain satisfactory inter-personal relationships with Company personnel, client personnel, contractor, and visitors."
The Local 30 gate-watchers are gathered under a sun canopy, drinking black coffee and talking about the skeletons in the company's closet. Dave, a dashing character who looks like he just jumped off a Viking longship, is "silo chief" at the plant and one of Local 30's many old-school bikers. He says that the lockout has incited new rank-and-file interest in Rio Tinto's notorious history. "It's like waking up and discovering that you're married to a serial murderer." Read the entire article HERE