Cleveland’s grocery chain, Tops, has filed suit accusing Laborers’ Int’l Union of No. Am. Local 310 of “harassing and threatening to use physical violence” against a nonunion construction crew working on a new Tops store. Tops won a temporary restraining order against Local 310. In response, Local 310 is pondering a boycott. But, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 880 which represents 4,000 Tops employees, has vowed to stay out of the feud.
The suit says the pickets sought to prevent work on the construction site by blocking the entry to the site and assaulting several workers. The alleged abuse was detailed by workers in sworn affidavits. “They surrounded me and one of them taunted me, yelling remarks like ‘What are you gonna do, call your mommy?” recalled Richard Robinson. “As I turned around, [they] assaulted me, punching me squarely in the face, cutting my lip open.” When the pickets started throwing coffee cups at the workers and threatening more violence, the foreman decided to call it a day. [Crain’s Cleveland Business 5/10/99]
It should also be noted that Local 310 has an unsavory past. It was one of the key locals targeted in the Dep’t of Justice’s draft racketeering suit in 1994 for, among other things, Chester J. Liberatore’s ties to La Cosa Nostra.