Detroit strike

Scott Marshall Scott at
Thu Sep 7 16:54:00 MDT 1995

**Strikers stop scab newspaper delivery**

(This article reprinted from the September 9 issue of the
**People's Weekly World**. For subscription information see
below. All rights reserved - may be used with PWW credits.)

By Steve Noffke

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. -- In a massive display of militant
solidarity, striking newspaper workers and their supporters
prevented delivery of scab-produced  newspapers in Detroit last
Saturday night, thus preserving the city's name of  "Uniontown,

The demonstration and mass picketing came in response to the
Metro Detroit  AFL-CIO Council's call for mass action at the
Sterling Heights printing plant  where the strike-bound Detroit
News and Detroit Free Press have set up a scab  print shop.

Nearly 4,000 trade unionists and supporters gathered at UAW Local
228  headquarters on Sept. 2 where Auto Workers President Steve
Yokich, John Sweeney, president of the Service Employees, Mine
Workers President Richard Trumka and  AFL-CIO President Tom
Donahue discussed the strike and it's implications for the entire
labor movement.

When word reached the rally that police had sprayed pepper gas on
pickets the  mood changed. Amid cries of "Go, Go!" speeches were
cut short and participants  headed for the picketline a mile
away. By the time the throng of angry workers  arrived, some 200
police were ready to clear the way for the trucks, loaded with
scab papers, their engines idling as they waited for police to
clear the way for a dash through the picket line.

But the reinforcements arrived and, by sheer force of numbers,
blocked the gate  and spilled into the street, effectively
thwarting any effort to move out the  trucks.

The scene was repeated when the company tried to move trucks out
the back gate,  "protected" by police wearing full riot gear. The
picketers blocked this  attempted end run as well. The police
then took off their battle gear, opened  cans of soda for
themselves and decided to wait it out.

As Dave, a Chrysler autoworker told the World, "There are a
number of people  here who are ready to do civil disobedience,
but there are a whole lot more who  won't be so civil about it if
the police get rough again."

Earlier in the week, Sterling Heights cops assaulted and
viciously beat a union  electrician who had joined the picket
line. A picture of the incident appeared  in the suburban press
and was reproduced and printed on T-shirts worn by many of
Saturday's demonstrators.

The pickets stayed on the line all night and the scab paper
didn't make its way  out of the plant until 8:30 Sunday morning,
severely limiting the distribution  of its Labor Day edition.

In an abrupt turn about from previous Saturdays, when police used
clubs and  batons to disperse pickets, Sterling Heights police
chief Thomas Derocha said he was not prepared to escort the scab
trucks through the picketline for fear of  provoking violence.
"My first responsibility is to guarantee the safety of the
officers and people involved," he said.

Over a dozen different cities and sheriff's departments sent
police to the  picketline. It was also confirmed that the Detroit
Newspaper Agency (DNA) which  is the corporate head of the two
newspapers, gave a check for $300,000 to  Sterling Heights to
help cover the costs of police overtime.

On Labor Day the theme of Detroit's annual Labor Day Parade was
"Stand up for  Michigan's Working Families," but it was the
newspaper strike that was on  everyone's mind as the striking
newspaper workers were given the honor of  leading the parade of
over 150,000 union members. The parade ended with a rally  in
front of the downtown offices of the News and Free Press.

With their victory of two days earlier fresh in their minds union
leaders called for workers to again come to Sterling Heights in
mass on Saturday and prevent  another Sunday edition from getting
out. National AFL-CIO leaders also promised  to begin applying
pressure to several main advertisers to drop their business  with
the News and Free Press to take this struggle around the country.

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