Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Police tell strikers to pack it up
Striking workers at the Stella D’oro Biscuit Co. were forced this morning by 50th Precinct officers to remove the tarp they set up on the sidewalk outside the Broadway factory entrance, and will later today have to fold up the tables and chairs they have been using since the start of the strike on Aug. 13.
According to Vincenzo Carovillano, who was present when the officers stopped by the picket line on Wednesday morning, the Five-O was responding to complaints made by Stella D’oro security personnel that strikers had been harassing temporary workers at the factory.
Picketers said they were told to remove the tables and chairs assembled behind police lines, and to quit parking in the space directly in front of the factory.
“He said he wanted everything down, that we shouldn’t have had it up in the first place so he wanted everything down,” said Ismael Rodriguez, speaking of the precinct’s Lt. John Trotta.
Lt. Trotta confirmed that 10 officers arrived on the scene at about 7:30 a.m. He would not comment on whether the visit was in response to harassment complaints.
Norma Rodriguez, another striker, also attributed the move to complaints that strikers were “harassing” temporary workers.
“These people who come to work, the scabs, the provoke us sometimes, too,” she said, adding that the striking workers had been given reason to believe that as long as they didn’t touch any of the temporary workers, they were within their rights to shout at them.
After 10 a.m. this morning, the blue tarp had been removed and placed in a plastic garbage bag, but tables and chairs remained.
Lt. Trotta said the workers had agreed to remove them at the end of their “shifts.”
The workers went on strike after they were given what they called an unfair contract that would cut some salaries, reduce benefits and eliminate sick days and some holidays.
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