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Assault, threat to be reviewed by prosecutors

By CARY ASHBY & KARLEE STEFFANNI • Updated Sep 26, 2017 at 5:55 PM

Prosecutors will be reviewing the case involving a suspected assault that happened last week on or near Maple City Ice Co. where some workers have been on strike since Sept. 1.

The Cleveland Road incident was reported just after 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The Huron County Sheriff’s Office released a report to the Reflector on Monday in which the name of the “uncharged suspect” is redacted. The narrative only indicates that deputies responded to Maple City Ice and the investigation is ongoing.

The person who called authorities reported being hit in the head with a billy club, Norwalk Police Capt. Mike Conney said. 

Maple City Ice provided the following statement about the incident:

“On Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, a number of Maple City Ice striking employees, along with the Teamster agent and another Teamster he brought from out of town, began verbally harassing and threatening independent truck drivers who were delivering loads of beer from the brewery.

“Later that day, the Teamster harasser from out of town crossed onto company property and began threatening an independent truck driver from the brewery, telling him he would ‘flatten his tires’ and ‘take care of him for crossing over an active picket line,’” according to the company.

“Apparently, the independent truck driver believed he was going to be physically assaulted by the out-of-town Teamster and when the Teamster charged at him, he struck him in self-defense. An employee of the Maple City Ice Co. witnessed the event. The Huron County Sheriff’s Office took statements from the parties and witnesses, after which the independent truck driver was permitted to go on his way. The company has not heard anything further from the Sheriff’s Office regarding the matter.”

Sheriff Todd Corbin said Monday his office is attempting to obtain video footage of the suspected assault and deputies still have a few people to interview. He added that the report is being forwarded to the Norwalk Law Director’s Office for review.

Deputies received mutual aid from Norwalk police.

Conney said police officers responded to Maple City Ice, which is in the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office, “because it was an assault and you want to make sure the parties are separated.”

When asked about the report late Monday morning, law director Stuart O’Hara said he hadn’t received it and it’s possible the report is in the process of coming to his office.

Today marks the 26th day of the strike by Maple City Ice drivers. The Teamsters’ Union Local 20 is striking over a failing pension fund.

Teamsters trustee and business representative Mark Schmiehausen has said during the most recent negotiation session that Maple City Ice turned down his proposal for a three-year contract and while there is progress, “we are not there yet.”

“They refused to stay in the (pension) fund for three years,” he said. “We have a tentative agreement on everything else.”

Maple City Ice President Pat Hipp, in a previous statement to the Reflector, confirmed “the main sticking point remains the failing Central States Pension Fund.”

“For the record, Maple City Ice Co. is in step with other companies trying to negotiate out of the Central States Pension Fund,” she said in the statement, adding that fund is expected to go “bankrupt in 2025, as projected by the trustees of the fund.”

A union member said Monday there was “nothing new” to report about the strike and added that the suspected assault “had nothing to do with us.”

Maple City Ice also distanced itself from the incident.

“It had nothing to do with any Maple City Ice employees,” one employee said Monday.

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