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Fourth striking worker arrested in Harmar

Mary Ann Thomas
| Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, 3:51 p.m.

HARMAR — Township police arrested a striking Curtiss-Wright worker Thursday morning at the entrance of the Electro-Mechanical Division plant along Low Grade Road — the fourth such arrest since picketing began.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1914 set up a picket line at the plant entrance when some 300 workers went on strike on Friday after negotiations for a new contract broke down.

Workers say the company's contract proposal includes a 2 percent pay cut for the first year and elimination of company pensions for new employees.

Since hitting the picket line, 20 or more Local 1914 workers, with picket signs in hand, walk in a circle at the plant entrance passing out handbills to vehicles coming into the plant.

Sheryl Haley of Lower Burrell was charged Thursday with obstructing highways and other passages, a summary offense that carries a fine of as much as $300 plus fees, according to Harmar police Chief Jason Domaratz.

According to Domaratz, Haley was arrested for not letting traffic into the plant.

But Haley, who has worked at the plant for more than 30 years and walked a picket line before, said she only was passing out handbills.

“We were rallying peacefully,” she said.

“I've walked a picket line before and I did nothing different than before,” Haley said.

Police handcuffed her and took her to Local 1914's union hall in Springdale Township.

Haley is among four workers, including Daniel Vandenburgh, president of Local 1914, who have been arrested and cited by police for similar violations at the picket line.

Otherwise, the picket line has been peaceful, police say.

“For the most part, they are being OK,” Domaratz said.

However, there have been traffic backups along and from Low Grade Road to Route 28's Springdale exit (Exit 12) in the mornings since Tuesday.

“The picketers aren't stopping the cars,” Domaratz said. But, the chief said, the picket line is slowing traffic that funnels to the plant's entrance, causing traffic backups on the roads.

The union intends to continue picketing outside the plant entrance, according to Vandenburgh.

“We're interested in a fair contract and getting back to the bargaining table,” he said.

Sharon Dey, A Curtiss-Wright spokeswoman, said Thursday afternoon, “We believe that the best course of action at the moment, and one that will lead to the best outcome for everyone, is for the parties to return to the table to continue negotiations.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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