Violence Against Striking Navistar Workers
dated June 27, 2002
6:30 am, June 24, 2002
Don Milner a CAW member from Windsor was brutally injured when a van operated by a security guard drove over him and injured five other CAW members at a picket line on the outskirts of Chatham Ontario June 24th.
Also sent to hospital for treatment were John Swan and Keith Bennett, also from Windsor. Milner was air evacuated to London in critical condition.
Chatham Kent police have arrested 21 Year old, Steele Leacock, and charged him with three counts of dangerous driving. He works for London Protection Inc. the company hired by US based Navistar to break the strike at the International Truck plant in Chatham.
The 600 CAW members from Local 127, who work at the plant, have been on strike since June 1st. Brothers and sisters from other CAW locals in southern Ontario joined them to help stop the buses carrying scabs.
While emergency teams treated the injured the pickets held their ground and no scab buses made it into town.
Prior to the incident Bob Chernecki, assistant to CAW National President Buzz Hargrove said the fight against the use of scabs involves the entire union.
Assistant to CAW National President
"This is without question a water shed in the union. This is without question a terrorism on a community that the workers of Chatham, the community of Chatham, the children, the wives shouldn't have to put up with this and boy it is time the community itself spoke up and said "get the Hell out of here we don't want you."
"We're going to mobilize our union here. This is not about just Chatham workers. We're going to mobilize our union and scabs are not coming through."
The vigil continues and the resolve of the people on the picket line is greater than ever.
"We've had problems like this in the past and it doesn't do anything to deter us. If anything it fuels the fire and it makes things a lot more ugly than they need to be."
"Beating guys up. Running them over with cars. I don't think it's right. We're just trying to settle a contract here. I mean that's all they have to do is sit down and start talking."
"There's no respect. No respect for us. No respect for anything right now. Okay if they are going to re-open it, well we are all going to go back to work upset. It's just terrible. It really is terrible. I mean come on let's get together here like people and you know work it out man."
The 600 members at the Chatham plant are fighting to save their jobs. The company is demanding the production workers give back $6 an hour and the trade workers $4 an hour in concessions and accept a 56-hour workweek.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."