Anti-Exxon Groups Call For January 26, 1997* General Strike and Rally
1,000 to Rhinelander, Wisconsin
Note: Relevant maps may be found from the Contents page. A statewide gathering against Exxon's proposed Crandon mine drew 1,000 people to a rally and parade in Rhinelander on Saturday, May 4, according to an estimate by the Oneida County Sheriff's Department. The gather ing was held at Hat Rapids Dam on the Wisconsin River, where Crandon Mining Co. -- owned by Exxon and Toronto-based Rio Algom proposes to dump wastewater piped from the mine. A parade followed past Crandon Mining Co. headquarters in downtown Rhinelander, taking up half of the street for two blocks. The event ended with a family picnic at a local park. The sponsor of the event was the Wolf Watershed Educational Project, a joint effort of grassroots environmental groups, sportsmens' groups, and Native American nations.
"The May 4 gathering was historic for Northern Wisconsin", said George Rock, a Wolf River sportfisherman and engineer representing the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, "not only as a milestone in the long fight against Exxon, but as an example of different communities working together for the common goal of protecting our natural resources." As emcee for the Hat Rapids gathering, Rock asked the audience which counties they were from, and found the crowd overwhelmingly from Northern counties concentrated along the Wolf and Wisconsin riverways.
The project included a 12-day Upriver Speaking Tour leading up to the Rhinelander gathering, drawing an estimated 1,100 people in 22 cities and owns. The tour brought the issue of sulfide mining to the public that would be directly affected by the Crandon zinc-copper sulfide mine -- either environmentally, economically, or culturally. Two speaking tours simultaneously traveled up the Wolf-Fox rivers and Wisconsin River, starting on April 22 (Earth Day), and ending with the fishing season opener on May 4. The tour presented one representative each from environmental, sportfishing, and Native American groups, and drew sportfishers, chambers of commerce officials, students and teachers, media, town and county officals, tribal officials, resort and cottage owners, environmental group presentatives, environmental scientists, former mining employees, and many others.
Along the Wolf-Fox waterway, the tour stopped in Green Bay, Menasha, Oshkosh, Fremont, New London, Shiocton, Shawano, Keshena, White Lake, Antigo, Mole Lake, and Crandon. The Wisconsin River tour stopped in Madison, Sauk City, Portage, Wisconsin Dells, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau, Merrill, Tomahawk, and Rhinelander. The proposed 38-mile wastewate pipeline from the mine to the Wisconsin River has created new opposition groups in that area, including Protect Our Wisconsin River (POWR). A spokesperson for the group, Jim Wise, termed the proposed pipeline a "sewer". A May 20 DNR hearing in Tomahawk on the pipeline was attended by 300 people.
The speaking tour and gathering brought an unprecedented response from the company and the pro-Exxon Wisconsin Mining Association. They initated a public relations blitz throughout Northern Wisconsin, including full-page ads in towns along the speaking tour, and numerous radio spots defending the controversial practice of sulfide mining. Groups critical of sulfide mining also placed less numerous newspaper ads, and radio and television spots. In addition, the speaking tour drew heavy newspaper radio, and television coverage
"Exxon's response shows it is definitely worried." said Zoltan Grossman, spokesperson for the Wolf Watershed Educational Project. "Mining officials are finding they can influence the state government, but can't control public opinion, especially among the local people who aren't easily bought or fooled. Such a huge corporation can't be outspent, but it can be outsmarted. While Exxon is playing checkers, we're playing chess, and we're in it for the long haul."
Wolf Watershed Educational Project
c/o Midwest Treaty Network
P.O. Box 14382,
Madison, WI 53714-4382
Tel./fax (608) 246-2556
Dave Blouin, Mining Impact Coalition, Madison (608) 233-8455
Al Gedicks, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, LaCrosse, (608) 784-4399
Ken Fish/Alice McCombs/Chad Waukechon
Menominee Mining and Treaty Rights Office Keshena, (715) 799-5620
George Rock, Wolf River Watershed Alliance, White Lake, (715) 882-4800
Karl Fate, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Rhinelander, (715) 282-5895
Jim Wise, Protect Our Wisconsin River, Tomahawk, (715) 453-8769/3676
Bill Koenen/Fred Ackley, Mole Lake Mining Impact Committee, (715) 478-7500
JANUARY 26, 1997*
GENERAL STRIKE AND RALLY
Wisconsin community groups opposing Exxon's Crandon mine proposal called for a statewide General Strike on Sunday, January 26, and a nighttime rally in downtown Green Bay.
"On January 26, we call on people throughout Wisconsin to show their opposition to Exxon by not working or shopping that afternoon," said George Rock of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, "Just stay at home with your family and friends, and watch TV."
"During the strike, we urge citizens to wear the colors green and gold--green for the environment, and gold for the threatened tourist economy in northern Wisconsin," said Bob Schmitz, president of the Wolf River Watershed Alliance, and a former president of Communications Workers of America Local 5520 in Green Bay. Schmitz added, "We also ask Wisconsin citizens to wear a large letter 'G' somewhere on their clothing, to stand for 'Go Home Exxon'."
The strike is a repeat of last year's anti-Exxon labor action on January 14, 1996, which strike organizers say brought 90 percent compliance statewide, and strengthened public opposition to Texas-based corporations. They predicted that nearly 100 percent of citizens in northeastern Wisconsin closest to the proposed mine site will abide by this year's strike call. The strike will culminate in a large anti-mine rally in downtown Green Bay, starting around 8 pm. Rock called on rally participants to "be loud and boisterous in support of locally owned business in Wisconsin."
Jim Cavanaugh, Madison-based president of the South-Central Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, predicted that the strike will have widespread support throughout Wisconsin. Former United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1007 President Bill Neuhaus, from Union Grove, observed, "Many union members in our state oppose Exxon because of its abysmal track record on mineworker health and safety, as well as the mine's threat to fishing and the recreational industry in the North."
Exxon's proposed Crandon mine site is next the Mole Lake Chippewa Reservation, about 100 miles northwest of Green Bay, and upstream on the Wolf-Fox river waterway. An alliance of sportsmen's groups, environmentalists, and Native American nations has worked to stop the zinc-copper sulfide mine, which they say endangers the nearby Wolf and Wisconsin rivers with acidic contamination. Rock said, "Exxon plans to leave behind the largest toxic waste dump in our state's history, which would cover an area the size of 350 football fields."
The Wolf Watershed Educational Project -- a joint project of the alliance -- is educating local citizens and officials about the mine proposal. On May 4, 1996, a march past Exxon's Crandon Mining Company headquarters in Rhinelander drew 1000 people (according to a county sheriff's estimate), following a 22-town speaking tour along the Wolf-Fox and Wisconsin rivers.
For more information, call the toll-free Hotline at (800) 445-8615, or access and bookmark the web site at http://treaty.indigenousnative.org. Or contact:
Bob Schmitz (414) 499-3075, (715) 484-8121
Dave Blouin (608) 233-8455
Zoltán Grossman (608) 246-2256 [am weekday]