On Monday we discussed an international effort to completely ban the mining, use and export of asbestos around the world. This push for an asbestos-free marketplace arrived soon after the Canadian government announced that it would lend $58 million to reopen the Jeffrey asbestos mine in Quebec. Mine president Bernard Coulombe says that the reopened mine could mine and export asbestos for the next 20 years.
A Troubled Past
The Jeffrey mine was crucial to Johns Manville, a manufacturing company that at one time led the world in producing products containing asbestos. Johns Manville employees and miners at the Jeffrey mine – located in Asbestos, Quebec – began claiming disability due to lung problems in 1929. A few decades later, a series of asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits flooded the company and it declared bankruptcy. It is now a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.
The mine ended up playing a major role in Quebec’s labor and social culture. Thousands of miners went on strike in 1949, demanding that their superiors pay higher wages and create a less toxic workspace. The company refused, leading to a four-month standoff spiked with violent outbursts when the company brought in replacements. At one point, the strikers attempted to barricade the mine so no one could enter. Police threatened to open fire, and the miners relinquished. They soon negotiated for slightly higher wages.
During the strike, public opinion strongly supported the miners. People felt that they deserved to work in sanitary conditions after many miners came down with lung diseases. Times have not changed; workers are still being diagnosed with lung cancers caused by asbestos exposure. If you believe that occupational hazards created a deadly lung disease, give us a call at 1-888-637-6347 or visit our website to learn more about asbestos exposure.
Cappolino Dodd Krebs LLP – mesothelioma lawyers