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Copper Talks End Without Agreement

January 21, 1985

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) _ Leaders of five major copper producers and 13 unions representing their workers headed home Sunday after a week of negotiations failed to come up with an agreement for cost-cutting measures aimed at helping the depressed U.S. copper industry.

″Obviously, we’re disappointed,″ Judd Cool, chief negotiator for one of the companies, Kennecott Corp., said Saturday.

Union leaders offered concessions amounting to $150 million over a 21/2 -year period, or roughly $10,000 in wages and benefits from every union copper worker now employed, said Edgar L. Ball, chairman of the National Nonferrous Coordinated Bargaining Committee that represents the 13 unions.

Failure to accept the unions’ counterproposal was ″a shameful exhibition of corporate irresponsibility″ that would be difficult to explain to copper company stockholders, he said.

Ball said during a news conference Saturday he was in a unique position of having offered to cut workers’ wages and having been rejected by management.

He said that ″basically, the companies have said, ‘That’s not enough.’ But we think you can’t expect much more than this from workers.″

Contracts with the five companies expire June 30, 1986, and union and industry representatives agreed earlier to meet this month in Albuquerque to try to salvage the nation’s flagging copper industry.

Tentative agreements were reached with ASARCO and Inspiration Consolidated Copper Co. on wage and benefits concessions.

But rules set up for the talks, which started last Monday, required that any agreement had to apply to all the companies.

Kennecott Corp., Newmont Mining Corp. and Magma Copper Co. rejected the concessions.

Ken Hochstetler, Kennecott’s director of communications, declined comment on why Kennecott had rejected the union counterproposal or whether layoffs were planned.

Union negotiators said Saturday morning that they and company officials were still too far apart on wage and benefit issues in the preliminary talks.

Ball said the talks ended with no union-endorsed proposal to offer the nearly 1,000 copper workers who met Saturday as the National Nonferrous Conference, a group overseeing union agreements reached with various mining companies.

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