Violence Erupts In Three-State Strike Against Kaiser
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ Violence erupted against Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Co. as talks to resolve a three-state walkout against the manufacturer hit a standstill Wednesday.
The walkout by 3,000 members of the United Steelworkers of America began Monday afternoon at five Kaiser plants in Washington, Louisiana and Ohio.
``There have been reported incidents of violence by striking members of the union at all three facilities″ in Washington state, including obstructing vehicles, inappropriate language and striking vehicles with signs and rocks, said Susan Ashe, a company spokeswoman in Spokane.
``This is very unfortunate and a matter for law enforcement.″
On Tuesday, police arrested two pickets at the gate of the Tacoma plant after investigating destroyed property. The windshield of a car making a delivery had been cracked, police spokesman Jim Mattheis said.
Kaiser said all five plants were operating. Some 700 salaried workers not covered by the contract were working expanded schedules, said Robert Irelan, a company spokesman in Houston.
The corporation has maintained contact with union leaders, he said.
``At this point right now, we’re at a standoff,″ said Fred Gariepy, a spokesman for Steelworkers Local 329 in Spokane. ``There’s nothing going on.″
The union employees have been working without a contract since Oct. 31. Last week, the union rejected an offer from Kaiser that includes a pay raise of slightly more than $1 an hour over the life of the four-year contract.
The offer also contained bonus packages tied to aluminum prices and productivity. The average union worker makes $13 an hour.
Union leaders said they opposed a Kaiser demand to establish new rules for job descriptions and more flexibility in combining jobs.
Kaiser officials sought the changes to reduce costs and improve efficiency, saying the moves were essential to avoid extensive layoffs and remain competitive.