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Union protesters clash with nonunion workers at Northfield Park

Wire • Mar 23, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Northfield police are boosting their presence outside the Northfield Park horse track because union protesters clashed Friday morning with non-union workers building the new racino.

The picketing, which began earlier this week, escalated Friday and included a pickup truck being damaged, tools being taken and a protester’s foot being run over, Police Chief Mark Wentz said.

“It kind of went both ways,” the chief said, adding that two officers were “tagged” by a vehicle.

He called them “minor incidents,” adding that no one was seriously injured and no charges have been filed.

Union protesters are upset that non-union labor is being used to build the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park, which will feature slots-like video lottery terminals. They have been protesting in the morning.

“Everyone has been relatively peaceful for the most part but we had these incidents in the morning,” Wentz said.

About 40 or 50 protesters crowded around the entrance drive as the non-union employees came to work Friday, the chief said.

Macedonia and Walton Hills police responded to the scene to help.

In the future, there will be more police at the scene and the pickets will not be permitted that close to the entrance drive, Wentz said.

“Our big concern is the safety for everyone, including the people who are driving on Route 8,” he said.

Jeff Hathaway, business manager with Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Union Local 109, said one of the trucks entering the work site turned into the protesters without using a turn signal and “at a rapid rate of speed.”

He said the protester whose foot was run over is “a little bruised up” but fine.

The two sides are negotiating a possible deal to end the protest, Hathaway added.

Northfield Park officials declined comment.


By Rick Armon - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

©2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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