No local charges for replacement workers

NILES – Phillips Manufacturing will not face local charges for hiring replacement workers during a work stoppage that started last fall.

Municipal Judge Thomas Townley dismissed the so-called strikebreaker or ”anti-scab” law last month, calling the measure ”unenforceable.”

It’s unclear whether the city will appeal Townley’s ruling.

”The issue in this case deals with replacement workers,” Townley said in his decision. “The United States Supreme Court ruled long ago that employers had the right under the National Labor Relations Act to hire replacement workers during strikes. With that clear pronouncement, a prosecution under a local ordinance banning scab employment is unenforceable.”

About 44 members of United Steelworkers Local 4564-02 have been on strike since Sept. 13 over what they say are unfair wages, benefits and working conditions. They had been working without a contract since Aug. 9.

Municipal Court Prosecutor Terry Swauger filed the complaint Sept. 28 after the company began hiring replacement workers through an employment agency. Swauger said Friday that Law Director Terry Dull would have to decide whether to appeal the decision.

Swauger used the local law that had been on the books here since 1964 and updated in 1971. The constitutionality of the law has never been tested, though.

Warren attorney Patrick Wilson, who represents the company located on Walnut Street and who won the dismissal for Phillips, called the local law unconstitutional.

The plant manufactures steel parts used with plasterboard in the construction industry.

In December, an out-building containing food and supplies for striking workers was set on fire.

In November, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, urged both sides to continue talks, which have since been somewhat stalled.