NILES, Ohio - A judge ruled against the city of Niles law banning companies from hiring strike breakers.
The ruling came in the city's case against Phillips Manufacturing, which allegedly violated that law by hiring replacements for union members who have been on strike since September.
Niles City Prosecutor Terry Swauger says the law has been on the books since 1964 and the court has not rendered a decision applying the anti-scab law until this case. He says its original purpose was to keep communities safe from strike violence.
The 90s had plenty of examples of labor relations getting out of hand in the Valley. Unions clashed over strikebreakers during a walkout at Superior Beverage, where a van was tipped over and confrontations were common.
A security guard was shot at Warren's WCI Steel during a violent strike and at RMI in Niles a guardhouse was pelted with rocks during a labor dispute.
It was no secret why cities wanted to have a law as an option to calm crowds.
"There was a lot more of a battle between workers and employers then. The unions were gaining strength and gaining support from people, so these laws were probably passed in response to that," Swauger said.
Swauger believes federal laws allowing companies to continue to operate during strikes likely outweighed the local anti-scab law in his case. An appeal is still up in the air as he plans to meet with the city law director about the possibility.
In September, 50 workers went on strike against Phillips in a contract dispute. They consider the ruling a set-back, but they're not leaving the picket line yet.
"We're going to use every available option we have within legal means to fight this company and make them do the right thing and that's just the way it is and we're not leaving," said David Hanshaw, member of the United Steelworkers Local 4564.
Hanshaw says his union will meet with the city's mayor next week to explore any other options and an unemployment hearing is set for March 18th in Akron.