Review of the Book “Copper Crucible” by Jonathan Rosenblum

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Copper Crucible


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The following article gives a review of the book “Copper Crucible” by Jonathan Rosenblum in terms of characterizing the events of the strike by Untied Steelworkers against Phelps, Dodge and Company and its devastating and everlasting effects. Rosenblum, an attorney and a reporter, writes an onlookers description of the remarkable and eventually a fruitless strike in 1983 generally by Chicago miners in little Arizona mining cities in opposition to the Phelps Dodge Company. The book Copper Crucible is written against the setting of the uncomfortable associations flanked by the corporation and the mine-workers’ unions starting from as early as 1903. Rosenblum argues that Phelps Dodge’s undeviating decision in hiring permanent substitutes in place of the entire union body on strike manifested an essential transformation and a defining moment in American workers-administration dealings, giving employers an effectual weapon for infringement of legitimate strikes.

The chapters in the book on the strikes are written in an agitated fashion, but the argument over the consequences of the strikes is written in a tranquil and attentive manner. In the title Copper Crucible, the word crucible refers to cauldrons for liquefying ore, to basic analysis of idea or conviction, and to past moments distinct by a convergence of strong academic, financial, and political forces. Every one of these meanings is essential to Jonathan Rosenblum’s descriptive story of the 1983 copper miners’ strike against the Phelps-Dodge Corporation

Reasons to Phelps Dodges Strike as Defining moment in American Labor-Management

Copper Crucible, by Jonathan Rosenblum alleges that the strike by United Steelworkers of America against Phelps Dodge Corporations Copper Mines in Arizona for the period of the mid-1980s can be acknowledged as the defining moment that retunes the relationships between companies, labor unions, and blue-collar communities. A well read review of the book surveys the rationale Rosenblum gives to illustrate the Phelps Dodge strike as a defining moment and explain the consequences of this whole issue. The Strike was instigated as an arrangement disagreement between the Phelps Dodge Corporation and a group of union copper miners. The consequential strike kept on for almost three years and is looked upon as a moment of great consequence in the history of the United States labor movement. This book concentrates on the damages on workers lives when they traversed paths with an influential corporation when that company has the control to do so. It exposes visibly how thin the facade of the labor-management settlement was. Phelps Dodge took full advantage of a prospect of busting their unions and was assisted by labor regulation, labor law officer, and law enforcement sectors.

For readers of Copper Crucible, Jonathan Rosenblum’s enthralling version of a harsh fight back among the organized copper mine workers and the Phelps Dodge Corporation, it will not easy to just sit back and read this novel and stay impartial. It gives a feeling of infuriation towards company’s reproachful disregard for just play and for the lives of long-time employees, the company’s utilization of racial and religious disparities among workers, the compliance of legislative system to exercise strength and defy the general rights of strikers at the request of Phelps Dodge, the sorrowful meagerness of labor rule and the dishonesty of a particular NLRB officer and the part of educational in propagating tactics for companies to use in crushing these organized workers. Some readers, however, will also tend to side the company, pointing out the fact that the company was obliged to act in this way because of awful economic conditions and the participation of police force was required to preserve order and will argue that much of the responsibility of the conflict rests on worldwide union representatives, engaging in their own superior plan, and, eventually stating that is the story of a company forcefully, proactively, and profitably counteracting to its surroundings.

The story starts when in 1983; Arizona copper mine workers rejected agreement conditions that further main copper producers had acknowledged and persistently demanded major allowances. As a result of these demands, Phelps Dodge permanently replaced its striking workers. By 1985, the unions that had stood for the mine workers were decertified, finishing years and years of union representation. This was one of the first times that a private owner had used undeviating substitute of strikers to liberate itself of unions. This policy, and the intimidation thereof, would turn out to be a fixed way for management in dealing with unions in consequent years e.g., Caterpillar. Writer relied on mixture of interviews, organization papers, tabloid accounts, and academic sources; Rosenblum’s script is energetic and easy to get to. At the same time, his description is adequately comprehensive to be of significance to intellectuals. The first scene is of the questionable scene of a solo, nude strike enthusiast facing up to a large group of riot-kit-dressed police force on a tear-gas covered freeway. The biographer after that shows us how this picture came about by mapping out the unfathomable chronological roots of the strike, familiarize the reader with key players on both sides of the company and union, examining the financial conditions of the copper industry and Phelps Dodge in the early 1980s, and at large, recounting the obscure succession of trials becoming apparent during the strike.

For most important part, Rosenblum is principally in sync with the dire consequences of this fight on the lives of Mexican-American workers and their communities. Although anxious about effectively taking into account different angles on the strike, his compassion evidently lie with the strikers. He offers substantial verification that the company aggressively wanted to liberate itself of unions and its troubles and was not simply taking action to the pressure of the situation. Rosenblum also proposes that the main decision makers of the union alliance were too disinterested in their workers problems that they lost vision of the veracity of the affair in their yearning to preserve model dealing in the industry at all costs, and were lazy to utilize less conservative policies like the corporate drive. The author’s primary dispute is that the dealings at Phelps Dodge performed an imperative part in reforming labor-management affairs all the way through the U.S. The victorious exercise of this approach by Phelps Dodge encouraged other employers to trail suit and rest U.S. labor organization relations on an essentially poles apart path, one in which the management of the organization possess a key upper hand and not the union. Going away from the book to a political and financial reasoning of this issue and its impacts, the events were followed by the decision made on 7th of April, 1982, when Phelps Dodge proclaimed that it would replace 3,400 of its employees in Texas and Arizona. More then a year later, in May 1983, the copper mining company commenced consultation with the United Steelworkers and other unions in Phoenix, Arizona.

The unions settled on to freezing their associate earnings for three years, but attempted to negotiate for Cost of Living Adjustments and to avoid job arrangement. In recent years, parallel concurrences had been agreed to by further mining company, counting Asarco, Kennecott, Magma Copper, and Inspiration Consolidated Copper. Nevertheless, Phelps Dodge was facing rivalry from out of the country manufacturers throughout a predominantly small phase of metals pricing. This lead to an amplified media inspection, high lightened by the Business Week cover of July 1982, publicizing a “Management Crisis at Phelps Dodge”. (Rosenblum, 47) The issue incriminated Chairman George B. Munroe in the company’s financial despair. The following dialogues with the unions were disastrous to direct to a concurrence, and on midnight of July 30 a strike began, together with workers from Morenci, Clifton, and Douglas, Arizona. Thousands of miners marched off and formed a blockade at the Morenci Mine. The next day, Phelps Dodge enlarged security staff in and in the region of the mine. Within days, there were illegal detainment of miners along with shootings, expulsions and illegal inspection by the Arizona Criminal Intelligence Systems Agency. Starting from August, Phelps Dodge declared that they would be employing permanent alternate workers for the Morenci Mine. For the time being, the local government accepted restrictions which restricted protests and demonstrations at the mine. In response to that, a thousand strikers at the gate of the mine. In reciprocation, Phelps Dodge closed fabrication and, later, Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt flew in for a meeting and convinced Phelps Dodge to a 10-day cessation on hiring new workers and a federal negotiator was called in for debate. However, the next day, to disperse the strike, heavy force of armed vehicles along with tanks, helicopters, state troopers and National Guard members arrived in “Operation Copper Nugget”. (Rosenblum, 116) Strikers were powerless against such force to stop the new workers from going in the mine. 10 strikers were arrested after 8 days and were charged with disturbance. After which, the strike lost much of its energy. After a string of clashes and disagreements, the strike publicly ended on when National Labor Relations Board discarded requests from the unions trying to bring to an end to derecognization on February 19, 1986.

Aftermaths of the Strike

This strike of Arizona Copper Mine became a defining moment which later becomes a mark of crush for American unions. Press declares that the miners’ strike as am example for consequent labor defeats. As a touching and keenly told story of human fight and failure, the book would be certain to create persuasive debates on the roles of law in our world. This book very powerfully portrays characters but lacks in setting this full affair in a bigger angle. Rosenblum throws uncertainty on the unions perceptive and tactic in this strike of 1983. But one thing which is clearly missing is any extensive endeavor to enclose this labor clash in background of the political insight and influence of the American working class in common. The book is highly recommended but one is left chiefly with compassion for the workers who had their lives destroyed and not with a broader perceptive of labor relations other than the clear potential of a company with an excessive anti-union hatred to cart out its determination.


Rosenblum, D. Jonathan.Copper Crucible. Published by ILR Press, 1995

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Review of the Book “Copper Crucible” by Jonathan Rosenblum. (2016, Aug 18). Retrieved from

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