Striking workers facing charges

LORDSTOWN — Two men picketing outside the General Motors assembly plant face charges of disorderly conduct in connection to a report they blocked janitorial workers there from entering the parking lot.

Jonathan H. Alexander of Youngstown and Charles W. Denison of Lake Milton were ordered to appear Monday in Newton Falls Municipal Court to answer to the minor misdemeanor charges filed Wednesday.

It’s the first time during the United Auto Workers strike that pickets outside the plant have faced legal trouble, but it’s not the first time they’ve clashed with the janitorial workers with Leadec Corp. These janitorial workers are members of UAW Local 1112 but are crossing the picket line to work.

There have been reports of coffee being thrown on a vehicle, strikers in the road and of one striking worker hitting a vehicle with a wooden sign as the vehicle passed the pickets.

The Leadec workers have asked for police escorts to get into and out of the parking lot to avoid confrontation with the pickets. They stopped at the police station Wednesday morning for the help, and an officer met them at the entrance, said police Chief Brent Milhoan.

The men charged Wednesday — day 17 of the UAW strike against GM — were, according to a police report, part of a group of about six pickets outside the facility’s main gate on Hallock Young Road who blocked entry into the plant for about six cars by standing in the entrance or barricading it with chairs.

Most of the group moved when told to by a police officer, who also moved the chairs, but two men refused, causing the officer to direct vehicles trying to get to the plant to another entrance, a report states.

When the line of vehicles returned to the main gate, they were again stopped by the two men, who police then escorted by hand to the side, the report states.

The men initially refused to identify themselves, but later did, the report states. Police later filed the charges based on the recommendation of the court’s prosecutor.

Alexander, 46, and Denison, 41, were given summonses to appear in court.

Bill Adams, vice president of UAW Local 1112, declined to comment.

Milhoan said police have sat down with union officials to review what is permissible and what is not for the striking workers outside the idled plant.

“We’ve gone over there and talked to them and explained the guidelines of picketing. We’re not trying to keep them from picketing,” Milhoan said.

GM hired Leadec for janitorial, mechanical and other maintenance services at the Lordstown plant and at other facilities. UAW Local 1112 represents GM and Leadec workers, but Leadec workers are not authorized to strike.