ACTION/ PICKET REPORT from the J (fwd)
Bryan A. Alexander
bnalexan at umich.edu
Thu Sep 14 08:24:46 MDT 1995
more. I haven't checked out their home page yet.
Department of English
University of Michigan
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Subject: ACTION/ PICKET REPORT from the J
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Subject: ACTION/ PICKET REPORT from the Journal (fwd)
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Here is a report on Sat. night actions. This was written by striking
journalists. If you would like to see more of this, we encourage you to
look up the Home Page of the Detroit Journal on the World Wide Web. It
is a news outlet produced by and for the striking workers. The address is:
Please stay tuned for further action updates and plans for this coming
Monday, September 11, 1995
Papers use helicopters after picketers block plant
By ROBIN FORNOFF, W. KIM HERON AND BILL RAPAI
Detroit Journal Staff Writers
Waves of demonstrators Saturday night and Sunday morning defied police
and threats of an injunction and shut down the Detroit Newspapers'
Sterling Heights printing plant in a second seige reminiscent of a
'60s anti-war protest.
An estimated 2,000 picketers singing the anthem "Joe Hill" and
chanting "union, union," surrounded the plant and refused to let
anything in or out during the 10-hour standoff.
Overhead, helicopters pounded the night sky, shuttling newspapers from
the plant to company trucks waiting at nearby Oakland/Troy Airport. It
was a new step in the company's attempts to deliver its critical
The demonstration, the second in as many weeks, was peaceful until
about 4:15 a.m., when company trucks inside the plant drove into a
crowd of about 300 picketers that remained outside the front gate.
Striking Detroit Free Press reporter John Lippert, who was among the
demonstreators, said it was a miracle no one was injured or killed by
"It was a stunning example of corporate lawlessness," Lippert said.
"Whoever gave the order knew full well people may be injured or
killed, and it was ordered anyway. These are really lawless comanies,
and their disregard for human life and safety is getting brazen."
Sterling Heights police said they didn't pursue any of the six trucks
that ran through the crowd at speeds of up to 20 m.p.h. because of the
hostility shown to them by a crowd last week. According to Lippert,
police said they would file a report Monday based on videotape they
took of the incident.
The charge of tractor-trailers into sign-carrying picketers was the
third in a week at the Sterling Heights plant. Trucks tried to drive
through about 100 picketers during a Sept. 2 rally and again on Labor
Day. The Labor Day demonstration turned into a night of violence that
saw demonstrators hurling lumber, concrete and steel rods after being
sprayed with tear gas by police. There were 23 arrests and minor
The violence prompted lawyers for Detroit Newspapers Inc. to seek an
injunction limiting the number of picketers at the plant. The request
was refused Friday by Chief Macomb County Circuit Judge Peter Maceroni
after union lawyers promised that any further demonstrations would
Many picketer in Saturday's throng were members of the UAW supporting
the six unions that struck the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News
on July 13. Other unions involved included teachers, clerical workers,
restaurant employees, plumbers, carpenters and steelworkers.
Many said they came because they believe the newspaper strike is a
pivotal stand againt corporate union-busting and the dawn of renewed
solidarity for organized labor in the United States.
Demonstrators were joined by a cross-section of the Detroit religious
communty, including Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of the Archdiocese of
Detroit, who called the newspapers "immoral" for trying to bust unions
with replacement workers.
"That's the key moral issue here," said Gumbleton. "The right of
people to organize as a union...and the company trying to destroy that
Gumbleton said the Detroit religious community is united in supporting
strikers and "that unity crosses all denominations."
The violence being done to these people by a company depriving them of
jobs is far in excess of what's being done by police at this picket
line," Gumbleton said.
Unlike the Labor Day demonstration, Sterling Heights Police Chief
Thomas Derocha refused to order his officers to try and move
picketers. Derocha said he wouldn't risk the safety of his men or
chance inciting a riot just to allow the DN to publish a newspaper.
DN spokesman Tim Kelleher said about 500,000 newspapers were flown out
by helicopter -- less than half the pre-strike Sunday combined
circulation of 1.2 million.
Kelleher's figure was disputed by striking members of the Newspaper
Guild who witnessed papers being transferred from helicopters at the
airport near 15 Mile and Coolidge in Troy. They said it would have
taken at least 16 hours to transfer that many papers.
Three helicopters made repeated trips between the plant and the
airport. About 120 bundles of papers were unloaded from the largest
helicopter, while the smaller choppers were able to handle about 57
bundles. There were100 papers in each bundle.
Meanwhile, Detroit City Councilman Mel Ravitz said he will ask Mayor
Dennis Archer on Monday for an explantion of police action Sunday
outside the newspapers' printing plant on Detroit's Riverfront.
About 60 Detroit police officers, including nine mounted on horses,
pushed picketers aside to allow trucks to enter and leave the plant.
Two striking workers were arrested on felony charges for allegedly
basing in windows of trucks.
"I was pleased that the maximum violence I observed was a brick or
rock being thrown," Ravitz said, adding, "The strike is not doing
Detroit any good."
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