Ann Arbor’s Human Rights Party (HRP) won what it considered a minor victory Monday in its continuing battle with city police.
With the prodding of Councilwoman Kathleen Kozachenko, HRP-Second Ward, City Council approved a resolution instruction city police to provide equal protection for all sides in the Argus labor dispute.
While Kozachenko originally sought approval of a resolution ordering the police to stop “harassment” of strikers, she said the “watered down” approved measure was a minor victory for her party.
"We don’t win many, you know." Kozachenko said.
However, Council didn’t even try to “water down” a second Kozachenko-HRP resolution that would have put Council on record supporting the employee strike. That motion was defeated.
Two Council Democrats, Carol Jones, Second Ward, and Norris J. Thomas Jr., First Ward, were responsible for the amendments to Kozachenko’s resolution.
Where Kozachenko criticized the conduct of police, Thomas and Jones added the word “alleged” to each of Kozachenko’s charges.
“I don’t feel comfortable in making charges,” Jones said. "But the charges have been made and they are serious enough that we should go on record repeating what already should be police policy.”
Kozachenko and several HRP representatives charged that police were protecting management while harassing picketing employes in the strike that began on June 13.
Argus Optics at 2601 S. State St. shut down operations earlier Monday as a result of the strike, and by order of company management.
In a case before Circuit Court Judge Ross Campbell, management claims that striking members of UAW Local 985 have resorted to some instances of property damage and violence in their picketing.
The strikers charge that the company has refused to negotiate with the union which was certified by the National Labor Relations Board. That charge, in the form of an unfair labor practice suit, probably will be heard before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
In a written report to Council, Police Chief Walter E. Krasny said one arrest of a picketer was made on June 19 and that police are seeking authorization to arrest a driver — alleged a non-striking worker — who struck a picketer on June 20.
He said police involvement has included one patrol unit and one command unit to keep driveways clear of strikers and to prevent damage to cars in the parking lot.
In discussion of the HRP motion, Kozachenko also charged that when she sought police information on her own — not identifying herself as a councilwoman — officers ignored her and didn’t attempt to provide that information about police involvement in the dispute.
Council Republican Richard Hadler, Fourth Ward, accepted the Jones-Thomas amendments to Kozachenko's resolution in supporting the new version.
Other council Republicans voted against the issue and the second one, endorsing the strike, on the grounds that the city should not take sides in a labor dispute.
On the second issue, Hadler voted with fellow Republicans and the issue was defeated in a tie vote.
Republican Mayor James E. Stephenson was absent.
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Walter E. Krasny
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2601 S State St