United Steelworkers Local 8565 members who have been picketing in front of Rotek in Aurora for nearly 11 months have been told by the city to remove two of their three wooden roadside shelters.
The northern-most shelter at the facility on S.R. 43 was removed Nov. 5, according to Bill Hyslop, president of Local 8565. He said the union will take down a second shelter in the next couple weeks, although it has not been determined which one.
"We're going to comply," he said. "We're going to try to get (the second one) down in the next couple weeks."
Hyslop said the union's lawyer was contacted by Alan Shorr, the city's law director.
Shorr said he has been "in discussion with the legal counsel for (picketing) union members regarding the appearance of the outside of the facility." He declined further comment.
A meeting with Rotek officials regarding salaries and health insurance is scheduled for Friday. "We're still trying to work toward a resolution," Hyslop said.
He called the order to remove the shelters "a Grinch-type of thing."
"We don't know why they want to kick us when we're down. It's the holiday season," he said.
"How do you stand out there without the shelters in the snow, rain and storms?" he said. "We've already had a couple of (union members with) strokes. Some have heart conditions, and a couple of guys have pneumonia. I don't understand why they want to subject our people to further stress."
Kellie Harris, director of media and communications for ThyssenKrupp of North America, parent firm of Rotek, said, "Rotek appreciates the city's concern for the safety of passing motorists, and employees who are entering and leaving the facility, as well as its other visitors and the striking workers.
"We also are concerned about the impact this strike has had on families and the community," Harris said. "We remain hopeful we can reach a solution to resolve this issue when we meet Dec. 13. We intend to bargain in good faith, and we hope the union has the same mindset."
Hyslop said union members were told they can keep the barrels where fires are lit and also can keep some fire wood at the other two shelters as long as someone is there.
Hyslop also said the city wants to restrict the union's number of signs. Previously, five or six signs were permitted at each of the three shelter locations, he said, but that number is being reduced to four signs at the one shelter.
"I don't understand why they're attacking us," said Hyslop. "There are bus shelters that people can go into in front of businesses and houses. So why are our shelters offensive?"
The union has picketed at the site since Jan. 18.
Harris said in May the union rejected a settlement offer, and Rotek began the process of hiring replacement workers.
A hearing officer from the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services' Office of Unemployment Compensation has ruled that workers had been locked out and are eligible for benefits. The company has appealed the decision.
Hyslop said Rotek makes aluminum gun turret bearings for Hummers.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187