Judge smacks down uncivilized strikers

Citing "threats of violence and intimidation," Acting State Supreme Court Justice Marianne Furfure has issued an injunction barring picketing Dresser-Rand strikers from interfering with access to the factory. In a 15-page ruling filed Tuesday, Furfure found that illegal acts have been threatened or committed by union members who have been on strike since Aug. 4.

"Impeding access to the Dresser-Rand facility by effectively blocking access across the crosswalks ... in the guise of picketing is not lawful behavior," Furfure wrote. "Additionally, placing video cameras up to the windows of vehicles leaving the facility is another form of intimidation and harassment."

The judge said Dresser-Rand proved during three days of hearings last week that threats of violence and intimidation have been made against those who have crossed the picket line. "These actions are not just isolated incidents of rowdy behavior at the beginning of a strike, but acts of threat, intimidation and harassment that have continued and extend beyond the picket line to nearby businesses and the homes of employees," Furfure wrote.

The judge said police have not been able to adequately address the ongoing blocking of access to the facility because of the use of police scanners on the picket lines.

Furfure said the circumstances do not justify a limit on the number of pickets at any one location, which Dresser-Rand had requested.

"It is not the number of picketers but the conduct displayed which is unlawful," she wrote.

Dresser-Rand said in a news release that it is "extremely pleased" with the decision.

"This injunction will help us protect our salaried employees, our newly hired replacement workers, and perhaps most significantly, those employees that have chosen to cross the picket line and return to their jobs," said Dan Meisner, human resources manager at Painted Post.

Furfure's order prohibits pickets from:

• Interfering with people or vehicles entering or leaving the Dresser-Rand factory.

• Hindering traffic flow by placing people, vehicles or other obstructions in the way of traffic.

• Picketing in or across any crosswalks.

• Videotaping or photographing the occupants of any vehicles entering or exiting the property.

• Assaulting, harassing or molesting employees, their families or others having business with the employer.

• Threatening or intimidating employees, their families or others either in person, by telephone, electronic means or in writing.

• Shouting, using obscene or abusive language or gestures.

• Using police scanners on the picket line.

Representatives of Local 313 were unavailable for comment Wednesday. About 400 union members walked off the job Aug. 4 after their three-year contract expired. The cost of health care coverage and contract language covering work rules are the major issues in dispute.


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