In regard to the Jeep fire story
I am Robert LaVenture, director of District 12 of the United Steelworkers. Iím writing to you about your recent coverage of a Jeep Wrangler that caught fire. This Jeep belongs to a electrician who crossed the picket line of our Local 5114 members who are on strike at Heclaís Lucky Friday Mine, and have been on strike since March 2017. This electrician is essentially stealing our membersí jobs and has zero respect for workers on site.
In these times when journalist are under attack for supposed ďfake news,Ē I find it surprising that you would allow such biased reporting to be published in your paper. Your first report on the vehicle fire was published before the Fire Marshall completed his investigation. Your reporter, Chanse Watson, noted the facts of the fire and then, for no apparent reason, followed the reporting with commentary about USW local 5114ís Facebook page. This asked readers to make connection between the fire and the Localís thoughts on a strikebreaker ó even though there was absolutely no evidence that the Local was involved.
And, indeed, the Local was not involved. You also published a story explaining that the fire was caused by damaged wire. The owner of the Jeep had recently been made aware of this damage, yet he decided not to fix it even though he is earning money by taking our membersí jobs. Your second report did not acknowledge that there was absolutely no link between the fire and Local 5114 and, in fact, again went into detail about the Localís Facebook postings about the strikebreaker. This was uncalled for and irrelevant to the story being reported.
Even though we find the electricianís decision to cross our picket line deplorable, immoral and loathsome, we are not inciting violence or committing violent acts against him or any strikebreakers. Your reporting was irresponsible and biased. If you must report on Local 5114, may I suggested you examine the cause of the strike, Heclaís history as a bad employer or the solidarity shown by our members in the face of adversity! That would be better use of your readersí time.
Spokane Valley, Wash.