November 9, 2010 9:38:00 AM
Omnova Solutions Inc. employees have reported more than 100 flat tires caused by roofing nails and screws since July, two months after union workers went on strike.
The temporary employees have driven over the nails both at the plant, located at Idlewild Road and Yorkville Road, and at their residences, said company spokeswoman Sandi Noah.
Three tires had flats at the plant just Monday, according to Jay Lawrence, president of the local union chapter.
The company, which again declined to meet local steelworkers'' demands at a negotiation meeting several weeks ago, is paying $12.84 per tire repair at Value Tire Center on Gardner Boulevard.
Total Customer''s Tire Center also has repaired at least four tires for Omnova employees that have been damaged by screws.
"I don''t have an exact number (of tire repairs), but it is substantial," said Noah, who declined to say how much repairs had cost the company.
According to employees at Value Tire Center, more than 100 tires have been repaired, bringing the bill to at least $1,284.
The company is working with law enforcement to catch the vandal or vandals, who are acting with a "total disregard for public safety," she said.
Most of the damage is done by square-headed roofing nails at the Omnova plant, according to employees at the tire shop.
Strikers maintain that the flats could be caused by nails left in shingles that have fallen along the road on their way to a nearby landfill.
"We''re suspected of doing it, but as far as being accused, that hasn''t happened yet," Lawrence said.
Those walking picket lines at the company have reportedly been slightly injured after stepping on nails in debris along the road, he added.
Lawrence went on to say that the union would not alienate itself from the public by causing flats and pointed to the company as a possible culprit.
"We want the public to support us," he continued. "We''re just asking for a fair contract."
The petty vandalism has also hit businesses who work with Omnova.
Several companies have had tacks thrown in their driveways and yards, said Chief Deputy Greg Wright.
Wright said he had a "strong suspicion" that strikers were involved, although no one has been taken into custody, he said.
Columbus police have not recently received complaints about the flats, said Public Information Officer Terrie Songer.
Strikers are currently waiting out the fourth quarter in hopes that dropping profits will encourage the company to capitulate to union demands, Lawrence said.
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