Steelworkers to US Olympic Committee: Help Get Rio Tinto Off the Podium

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, June 28, 2012 /CNW/ - American and Canadian Steelworkers are lobbying the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to join an international campaign to oust Rio Tinto as an Olympic supplier.

United Steelworkers (USW) members from the U.S. and Canada came to Colorado Springs this week to meet USOC representatives as part of the international "Off the Podium" campaign against Rio Tinto.

USW and American Federation of Labour representatives met Wednesday with a USOC official to press for support for the Off the Podium campaign.

Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest mining company, is the official supplier of the metal used to produce the 4,700 Olympic and Paralympic medals for the London 2012 Games. Steelworkers say the company's behavior violates the Olympic ideals of fair play and the Games' commitment to sustainable development.

Since December 2011, Rio Tinto has kept 780 USW members in Quebec, Canada, locked out of their jobs because they are resisting the company's wholesale attack on wages, benefits and sustainable jobs.

"We delivered the message that clearly, Rio Tinto does not deserve to share the podium or be associated with the Olympic ideals," said Joe Drexler, USW strategic campaigns representative.

USW members at Rio Tinto operations in Utah, who produce the metal used to make the Olympic medals, are in full support of the campaign to throw Rio Tinto off the Olympic podium. Trade unions in over 30 countries also have contacted their Olympic Committees and asked that Rio Tinto be removed as an Olympic supplier and that the Olympic medals be recast.

"The Off the Podium campaign is in no way targeted at Olympic athletes," Drexler said. "The United Steelworkers, the largest industrial union in the US and Canada, fully supports our Olympians. We believe Olympic athletes deserve medals that are not tarnished by Rio Tinto."

USW members from Evraz steelmaking facilities in Pueblo, CO, came to Colorado Springs to join Canadian Steelworkers for a demonstration and news conference initially scheduled for today at USOC headquarters.

However, the media event has been cancelled given the devastating impact on Colorado residents of the wildfires. Instead, the USW and AFL members have decided to help out with relief efforts for victims of the wildfires.

For more information on the international Off the Podium campaign, visit www.offthepodium.org.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-434-7907, jdrexler@usw.ca


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