11/17/08

Strike brings out the worst in workers

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More strike stories: here

Typical violence, intimidation in labor-state

Tension between striking United Steelworkers at American Standard and union members who have crossed the picket line is increasing as police received a number of reports of vandalism and threats. Salem police Officer David Banar said it began Friday night.

It continued Saturday when police received a report on station at 3:15 p.m. from USW Local 1538 President Rick Hands advising that he and an entire group of picketers at the South Ellsworth Avenue plant were threatened by two known individuals.

The report said the two threatened picketers "while driving by in their vehicles" and both made comments of "paybacks" due to their vehicles and property being damaged the previous night.

Union representative Joe Holcomb said the two were identified as union members who crossed the picket line. He said the two threatened picketers by implying physical violence.

He said they were told early last week a total of about 19 people crossed the picket line.

Police had responded to the 100 block of Railroad Street 11:05 p.m. Friday where the complainant's vehicle suffered "severe damage" to both sides and the hood after some type of paint remover had been thrown on it.

The complainant made the report after returning to his vehicle after leaving work.

Police also received two reports Saturday of nails being placed in driveways, one in the 1500 block of Ridgewood Dr. and the other in the 700 block of W. Pershing St., by unknown subjects.

Both complainants said they believed it was the result of the current strike at their workplace. Neither reported damage to any vehicles and the West Pershing Street complainant advised he would review his video surveillance system.

Holcomb said striking workers were told to "keep it under control" adding if they were going to blame "us" for the nails they could just as easily say it was company people doing it.

"We don't condone that," Holcomb said, and related that some workers left the plant last week waving their paychecks at picketers and laughing at them.

"If they were going to do something they would have done it then," he said.

According to Columbiana County Sheriff's Office reports, the wife of an American Standard worker who lives in Salem Township reported Saturday finding nails in their driveway.

A Fairfield Township man reported Friday coming home to find a window broken and a rock in the sink. The man said he has been having problems lately because of the American Standard strike.

USW Local 1539 represents 340 hourly employees and has been on strike since Oct. 17 over wage and benefit concessions the company said it wants.

Last week, the membership was presented with three options: vote to accept the company's final proposal; stay on strike; or return to work and continue fighting labor law violations in the courts.

The union voted to stay on strike.

(salemnews.net)

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