Member Arrested for Picketing New York Local

Int’l Union of Operating Engineers’ Local 30 member Chris Hackett to adopted labor’s own tactics — he picketed his local for being blackballed. His N.Y. City union had him arrested. Hackett, a member for eight years, described himself as a loyal union member who always attended monthly meetings and showed up for picket-line duty when asked.  But when he wound up on the losing side of an internal union fight, he said, union officials ignored his inquiries about work assignments and refused his phone calls. “All lines of communication were down. I had no place to go,” Hackett said.

On Nov. 4, the second day of Hackett’s one-man picket line outside Local 30, business manager Jack Ahern called the police, who hauled Hackett away on disorderly conduct charges. At the next union meeting, Ahern denied asking the police to arrest Hackett. But members produced the criminal complaint signed by Ahern stating that Hackett was “cursing, yelling, banging on windows [and] harassing the female workers.”  Hackett’s supporters jammed a Dec. 29 hearing, where a judge dismissed the charge after the arresting officer testified he witnessed no misbehavior on Hackett’s part. Ahern failed to appear at the hearing.

This comes after a federal judge last summer found Ahern and Local 30 guilty of violating the free-speech rights of another member, Richard Perez, who had criticized the leadership. [Daily News 1/10/00]