November 9, 2010 9:38:00 AM
Some disturbing behavior has accompanied the five-month-old strike at Omnova Solutions in Columbus.
A local tire shop which does repairs for the company said it has fixed more than 100 flats caused by roofing tacks and screws, just since July. Companies that do business with Omnova have reported roofing tacks thrown in their driveways or yards.
No one has been arrested for this vandalism. Omnova strikers, who have been picketing outside the plant along Idlewild Road and Yorkville Road, say that the tacks could be falling off trucks bound for a nearby landfill, or put there by plant managers. Lowndes Chief Deputy Greg Wright said he had a "strong suspicion" that strikers were involved.
Tire shops have a strong suspicion strikers are involved, too. Tacks have ended up in cars not associated with the plant, and motorists are being told by mechanics that tacks thrown by strikers are to blame.
The workers obviously believe they have legitimate grievances against Omnova. This vandalism, whether done by strikers or people working in the strikers'' interest, isn''t helping the workers'' cause. Unemployment in Lowndes County is at 11.2 percent, according to the state''s latest estimate. Inside Columbus, it''s 17.7 percent. If reader comments on our past stories are any indication, public opinion is firmly against the strikers.
With so many workers sidelined unintentionally, it''s hard for many to understand how people with jobs would turn them down.
The workers contend that they have the knowledge and expertise needed by the plant to produce a quality product. That may be true, but our work force can learn. No one around here knew how to build composite materials and assemble unmanned aerial vehicles for the U.S. military just a few years ago, but Stark Aerospace is doing well. I imagine some of our motivated, unemployed workers can figure out how to make coverings for boat seats.
The greater threat is fewer people are buying boat seats during a recession, and the plant closes or moves. Then, everyone is out of work.
The union should be actively discouraging this vandalism. If anything, the strikers should be clearing the streets themselves -- they should go out of their way to ensure this activity stops. Public opinion is a powerful thing, and it''s not on the strikers'' side.