Archive for Monday, December 18, 2006

Judge limits pickets at Goodyear plant

December 18, 2006

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— A judge imposed restrictions on union picketing at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. plant, after accusations of harassment and vandalism.

A restraining order, issued by Shawnee County District Judge Charles Andrews, prohibits the United Steelworkers from having more than 25 pickets in front of the plant at any time. It also bars union members from damaging property or harassing temporary employees.

The order, issued Thursday, was prompted by Goodyear's allegations that strikers threw nails, impeded traffic into the plant and harassed workers crossing picket lines.

Ron Hoag, a member of Local 307, denied the accusations Saturday.

"There is nothing like that going on that I know of. We haven't been fouling any locks. We don't even have locks. Throwing nails? No. None of that," said Hoag, who was serving as a strike captain on the picket line. "We can't even hold our signs on sticks anymore because they say we're using them as weapons."

Andrews wrote in his order that there was evidence of a temporary worker being followed from the plant by union members and that they appeared to try to force the worker off the road.

The judge also found that union members spit on and verbally abused temporary workers, shone lights or flashed cameras in the eyes of people driving into the plant, pounded on vehicles passing the picket line and impeded traffic.

Hoag said temporary employees had harassed strikers.

"These people leave here, and they flash their money. They flip us the bird. They holler at us, so we holler back," he said. "Then we get this restraining order. It's just something Goodyear needs to do because they're ignorant, and they got nothing else going on."

Glen Griffith, vice president of Local 307, said the company was upset at the union's show of strength in a Dec. 6 demonstration in which about 300 strikers were outside the plant as workers entered.

Griffith said there was some congestion as a result of the picket but that he had no knowledge of intimidation or vandalism.

Andrews set a hearing on the order for Jan. 3.

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