Friday, November 05, 1999

Company, union bicker over picketing

Sides in strike at Mason factory in court today

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — A walkout at the A-Mold Corp. has turned ugly, with company and union officials seeking charges against each other over picketing at the plant.

        Attorneys for both sides plan to be in Warren County Common Pleas Court today for a hearing to decide whether several members of United Auto Workers Local No.2332 should be charged with contempt for violating Judge Neal Bronson's order limiting picketing at the factory on Mason-Montgomery Road.

        C. Edward Neace, the local's vice president, said the union will push for criminal charges against a company manager who allegedly struck two pickets at the entrance to the plant Monday.

        Trouble began brewing when 340 United Auto Workers (UAW) members went on strike at 6:30 a.m. Monday after contract negotiations broke down. A-Mold makes aluminum wheels for Gen eral Motors and Chrysler automobiles.

        Mason police spent much of the first day of the strike answering calls from nearby residents, complaining their streets were overrun with cars, and from company officials who reported vandalism of trucks entering the plant.

        According to a police report, one truck driver said a picket jumped onto his semi tractor-trailer and pulled the air lines loose, causing the truck to stop suddenly. The picket was pulled off the truck by a security guard, who could not identify the man to police.

        On Tuesday, company officials won a temporary restraining order after complaining to Judge Bronson that up to 100 pickets were blocking the entrances to the plant.

        Judge Bronson limited picketing to four UAW members, ordered others to stay 300 feet from the plant and prohibited anyone from blocking entrances to the plant.

        Raymond Neusch, an attorney representing A-Mold, said Thursday that up to 16 union members had gathered at the entrance to the A-Mold plant Wednesday.

        “We don't want anyone on either side to get injured. We think the best thing to do is to get the intervention of the court,” he said.

        At 4:45 p.m. Thursday, The Cincinnati Enquirer observed pickets standing in the driveway of the plant, blocking vehicles from entering.

        Reached at his home in Middletown, Mr. Neace said pickets were warned to comply with the court order, and said he doubted strikers had violated it.

        If 16 people were at the entrance to the plant Wednesday, he said they were probably there to pick up their final paycheck from the company.

        “I doubt they were holding picket signs,” Mr. Neace said.

        Since Monday, strikers have been waiting to hear whether charges will be filed involving the UAW members who claimed they were hit by a car.

        Union officials have turned a videotape over to police they say shows the incident. However, a Mason officer who investigated the incident told City Prosecutor Robert Peeler she did not think the vehicle hit the pickets intentionally.

        “When I talked to the police officer, she asked me how I thought they should proceed. She said from her perspective, it did not appear to be intentional,” Mr. Peeler said.

        He intends to review the video this week. If he doesn't think charges are warranted, he said the strikers who say they were hit can file criminal charges themselves.


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