Striking Workers look
To Stop Firm's Hiring
Daily Hampshire Gazette
By Robert O'Malley
Striking employees of the Kellogg Brush manufacturing Co. went to court and to the board of selectmen yesterday in an attempt to stop company officials from hiring new employees while the strike is in progress.
Julie C. Kellogg, president of United Rubber Workers Local 1051 - which represents the striking workers - had an application for a complaint filed in Hampshire District Court in Northampton yesterday. The complaint charges that company owners Herbert G. Futter and T. Mark Futter violated state law in "soliciting persons during a strike" through a Help Wanted advertisement in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
The complaint application, which was filed by the union's attorney, Thomas Lesser, charges each of the owners with four counts of violating state law in ads that appeared in the Gazette Oct. 17 and Oct. 19-21. A hearing on the matter will be held in the court clerk's office on Wednesday.
Lesser said today that under the state law, the Help Wanted ad must use the same-sized type to note that a company's employees are on strike as is used in noting the type of position being offered. That was not the case in the ads that appeared in the Gazette.
Other complaints to be filed
Lesser said that complaint applications will be filed today against the owners in regard to advertisements placed in other area newspapers as well.
Officials of the company were not available for comment about the dispute.
In a related development, about 30 of the roughly 240 striking Kellogg employees met with Easthampton selectmen last night and proposed a special warrant article for the next special or annual Town Meeting.
The proposed citizen's article would prohibit - among other things - the hiring by Easthampton businesses of new employees during a strike.
The article, which was accepted for the warrant by selectmen last night, has three sections.
The first section would prohibit "all industries, corporations and businesses" in Easthampton from "making employment available to people for the purpose of strikebreaking" when the businesses or industries are involved in a labor dispute or strike.
The second section would prohibit town employees from taking employment with any business, industry or corporation in town while the firms are involved in a labor dispute or strike.
The third section would prohibit all employees of the Town of Easthampton, "including policemen and firemen, from accepting full-time or part-time employment" with the Kellogg Brush Manufacturing Co. while the company is involved in a labor dispute or strike.
Needs voter approval
Selectmen Chairman Fletcher Smith Jr. told the employees - who have been on strike for a week - that the "board cannot enforce an ordinance of that kind unless it goes to a Town Meeting."
Selectmen, however, said the petition containing the signatures of 18 registered Easthampton voters would be placed on the warrant of the next special or annual Town Meeting pending certification of the signatures by the registrar.
The striking workers also asked selectmen if the town's tax money is being used to pay Easthampton police officers at the picket lines daily. Workers also complained that the police allegedly have been using unnecessary force against picketers.
Smith told the workers that no tax money is used to pay police to supervise the picket lines. Smith said the company pays the town through a special fund for the use of the police. Officers are paid from that fund for duty at the site.
Police Chief Robert J. Allen said all off-duty officers working on the picket lines are paid by the company, adding that the only time regular officers are used is if there is serious trouble on the picket line.
A number of employees charge that police officers at the picket site have at times used unnecessary force and strong language, particularly when moving strikers away from a truck and a company van entering or leaving driveways in front of the Pleasant Street plant.
Another worker alleged that the driver of a company van passing through a driveway "gunned the van" when workers were still in the driveway. One worker also claimed that a van carrying "scab workers" had almost hit another worker and that police were pushing picketers away. "If this isn't stopped, we're going to have a riot down there," one worker warned.
Smith, however, told workers that the police are acting "in a neutral manner...to preserve law and order."
When selectmen later asked Allen about the striking workers' charges, he said police officers have "shown a great deal of patience with the people there." Allen said that new employees " have a perfect right" to walk past the picket line, adding that both the striking workers and the company have rights.
Allen today declined to comment on a report that there had been a bomb threat at the company yesterday. Company officials also declined comment on the report.
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