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Judge Issues Restraining Order In Strike

October 8, 1985

FORREST CITY, Ark. (AP) _ A truck driver was arrested for firing a pistol over the heads of strikers Tuesday at a television assembly plant where a bitter dispute has brought eight arrests and the filing of a restraining order against the union.

No talks are scheduled in the 3-day-old strike by 1,800 workers at the Japanese-owned Sanyo plant.

In the latest incident, truck driver Dale Edwin Morrie, 38, of Danville, was charged with first-degree assault Tuesday after reportedly shooting a .357 Magnum pistol over pickets’ heads.

Morrie also was charged with discharging a firearm in the city limits and carrying an illegal weapon. A passenger, James Robert Essex, 34, of North Little Rock, was charged with three counts of possession of an illegal weapon for allegedly having three knives. The two men were held in St. Francis County jail and were to appear in court Wednesday.

On Monday, Chancery Judge John Pittman issued a temporary restraining order after six arrests were made at the plant earlier in the day. The order had been requested by some of Sanyo’s non-striking employees.

The request contained affidavits from employees citing injuries and damage they suffered Monday. The injunction says strikers may not ″threaten, intimidate, harass, hit or throw any object at anyone entering or leaving the Sanyo plant or Sanyo Road or anyone crossing the picket lines.″

Col. Tommy Goodwin, commander of the state police, said Tuesday no violence was reported after the arrests of Morrie and Essex early Tuesday. ″I don’t expect any problems today because the plant is closed,″ he said.

The plant’s management requested help from the state police, he said.

″We have met with management people and the people who are on strike. We have asked them to cooperate,″ he said. ″It’s my understanding that union officials did talk to their people, asked them to refrain from violence.″

George Clark, director of organization for Local 1106 of the International Union of Electrical Workers, said Tuesday that no negotiations are scheduled.

Members of the union walked out after rejecting a three-year contract proposed by the company. The previous contract expired Friday.

Clark said medical insurance and seniority, but not wages, were at issue in the workers’ rejection of the contract proposal.

Ronnie Crider, a union negotiator, said the new insurance package would cost workers $5 a week, compared with the previous $1.50 a week, and wouldn’t be as good as the previous plan.

Clark said the company’s offer would downgrade a number of jobs in the plant and would eliminate seniority rights for 85 percent of the jobs in case of layoffs.

″I know that we have talked to our people and have asked that everybody remain calm,″ Clark said. ″Emotions were running very high″ after the company sent a letter to employees saying it was prepared to hire replacements if a strike was called, he said.

″That letter was inflammatory,″ Clark said. ″We’re prepared to carry on a strike for whatever length of time it takes. We certainly want to get this settled. We have a difference of opinion. We can’t settle it unless we have the people at the bargaining table.″

Pittman’s order limits strikers to eight pickets in the main entrance area of the plant off Arkansas 1 north and eight pickets at the intersection of Sanyo Road and the Missouri Pacific railroad crossing, near a back entrance used by trucks. No pickets are allowed elsewhere.

The six people arrested Monday at the plant faced charges ranging from criminal mischief to third-degree battery.

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