If you drive past Amarillo's copper and precious metals refinery along highway 136, you will notice a sight you don't see very often. Workers at the refinery are lined up at the front gate on strike and picketing the company. Asarco is a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, who operate the plant just outside of northeast Amarillo.

According the the Asarco website, around 244 hourly and 94 salaried workers are employed here in Amarillo. The Associated Press has reported that about 2,000 hourly workers within the company are on strike at locations throughout Texas and Arizona. Picketing began at Asarco's Arizona properties late Sunday night and here in Amarillo on Monday morning.

The workers are members of the United Steelworkers Union, who said late last week that workers voted to reject the last contract that was offered by Asarco and Grupo Mexico. The contract was said to include no wage increase and around 2/3 of the workers and a freeze on their pension plan. It is also reported that the new contract would cost workers double out-of-pocket in contributions for health care.