Strikers, Kaiser warned by court

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 9, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / May 9, 1999

CONVENT – Kaiser Aluminum took the striking United Steelworkers of America local to the court of 23rd Judicial District Judge Alvin Turner on Monday, but little came out but a warning to both sides to behave themselves.

Kaiser attorneys sought more controls on the picket lines outside the Gramercy plant, where USWA Local 5702 has picketed since its Sept. 30walkout.

Specifically, more controls were sought and gained on the carrying of items such as pen-sized “laser lights” to temporarily blind a person, and of carrying any stick or similar object which could be brandished as a potential weapon.

Another hearing is set June 7 to hear specific complaints against particular strikers for violations of earlier strike rules, such as holding up traffic longer than allowed.

Union local president Wayne Stafford admitted a laser light was used once, to shine into a security guard’s camcorder. Also, two instances ofholding up traffic for longer than 45 seconds, documented by the ever- present camcorders, were pointed out, one of a minute and 15 seconds and another of two minutes.

Stafford admitted it happened and explained it’s easy to lose track of the time, what with an average of 7,000 vehicles moving through the gates on any given day.

The strikers have been locked out of the facility since Jan. 14, and a rallywas held in protest on April 1, where more than 400 striking Kaiser steelworkers were joined by two busloads of delegates from the USWA International Conference on Civil Rights and Women, then under way in New Orleans.

USWA International Vice-President Leon Lynch told the local during the rally that the union has $210 million in its strike defense fund, and they would “spend every penny” to insure a fair deal for the Kaiser workers.

The rally was preceded with a sit-down catfish fry at the Lutcher Public Relations Building, next to Lutcher High School.

Kaiser, during Monday’s court hearing, protested the presence of St. JamesParish Sheriff Willy Martin’s presence at that April 1 rally.

Martin testified at Monday’s hearing and explained he only directed Airline Highway traffic at the rally. The company withdrew that complaint.”We feel we came out all right,” Stafford commented afterward.

Turner said there was a “clean slate” right now, in addressing union and company attorneys, but cautioned each side not to come before him again.

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