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Latest News - July 2012

July 5, 2012
LABOR: ‘Significant issues raised’
Source: The Press Enterprise
By: Debra Gruszecki

A protest sign posted by striking members of Teamsters Local 166 greets truckers leaving the Anheuser-Busch property on Marlborough Avenue in Riverside on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. Anheuser-Busch filed a lawsuit seeking to curb protest activity outside its plant where roughly 40 Teamsters have been gathering at both entrances.

Riverside County Superior Court Commissioner Paulette Durand Barkley on Thursday said significant issues have been raised against the striking Teamsters Local 166 over its picket activity at Anheuser-Busch Sales in Riverside.

Barkley issued a temporary restraining order on threats.

The brew-maker has alleged that employees on multiple occasions have been harassed, intimidated and threatened with physical harm — even death.

“I have declarations that show threats go beyond a labor dispute,’’ she said. “There are rights to free speech, however, when someone walks beyond the picket and says, ‘Remember my face because I’m going to hunt you down,’ it goes beyond spirited discussion and picketing.”

Barkley said she wanted the rights of the Teamsters to be preserved, but added: “I want the employees’ rights preserved as well.”

Barkley also reserved Wednesday, July 11, for a hearing on a request by Anheuser-Busch to obtain a preliminary injunction on improper picket activity at 1400 Marlborough Ave., and at the “ambulatory pickets” that flared up as delivery trucks head away from the plant.

The Teamsters have been on strike since June 25 over a contract that expired May 31 affecting about 130 workers at the Riverside plant.

George Pappe, an attorney for the Teamsters, told Barkley that Anheuser-Busch on Thursday failed to meet a requirement for court-ordered relief to the Teamsters’ picket activity because it failed to meet a key condition.

“The burden of proof has not been made,’’ Pappe said, and one standard for the restraining order is to show that police are unable to provide adequate protection.

Anheuser-Bush made nine declarations of improper activity, but only four to five led to a report to police which no one has seen, Pappe said. “We don’t know if anyone’s been arrested, charged or warned,’’ he said. “It seems those are crucial elements.”

Steven Schneider, an attorney for Anheuser-Busch, bought in a seven-minute video showing protesters stopping three trucks, swearing and chanting, “No overtime, no beer.” He said he was also prepared to have a manager testify Thursday.

“This is the eleventh day of the strike, and the activity has not let up,” Schneider said. “All we are trying to do is put reasonable limitations on the picketers who are not entitled to block driveways, make threats of death of physical violence, station vehicles in front of the driveway or impede exits.”

Pappe said trucks have been stopped no more than two minutes; the ambulatory picket activity is allowed under the National Labor Relations Law. “No one has been touched.”

Barkley set July 11 for witnesses to testify.



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