By: E&P Staff
Labor problems at The Toledo Blade in Ohio hit a new level with a replacement worker relating that his car was intentionally torched last night while he was on the job about 10:30 behind the Toledo Newsprint Trucking Company. “It’s going a little further than they need to go,” Pete Thayer told a local TV station.
Larry Vellequette, a spokesman for the Toledo Council of Newspaper Unions, denied that any of his members played a role in the incident. “I’m pretty sure it wasn’t us,” he told E&P. “I know that we have been seven months without a single incident and why they would start now makes no sense.” He added that, “the real crime here is the Blade lockout.”
When fire crews arrived, they found Thayer’s car burning, according to a report today on local TV channel WTOL. Someone had spraypainted the word “scab” in black and thrown a cinder block through the driver’s side window.
The TV station’s summary on its Web site continued: “Five of The Blade’s unions have been locked out since before Labor Day in an ongoing labor dispute. About 400 workers from two unions have been working since March 2006 under the terms of their previous contract. Another Blade union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, has reached a 3-year contract earlier in 2006 that included wage and benefit cuts.
“Thayer said he was leaving work for the night when he found the fire. He’s the one who called 911 to report it. Thayer says he been a replacement worker for The Blade for seven months, and this is the first time he’s heard anything like this.
“Thayer tells us he thinks this is a scare tactic and it will not prevent him from showing up for work.”
Editor Ron Royhab and Assistant Managing Editor LuAnn Sharp, who has acted as a spokesperson for the paper during the labor disputes, were not immediately reachable for comment Monday.
Vellequette said, “It’s not that we haven’t had those thoughts,” about taking some sort of action against the replacement workers. “But people here have been real good about knowing who is the real problem in this. We take issue with the scabs, but the real villain in this is the people who locked us out in the first place.”
Vellequette said the unions had been in confidential talks with the paper for several weeks in January and February, but reached no agreement. He said a National Labor Relations Board hearing about the lockout, which stemmed from a union complaint, was to have started today, but had been postponed until May.