New Philadelphia, Ohio - A Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge wants more information before ruling on the Twin Cities’ anti-strikebreaker ordinances.
Judge Edward O’Farrell made the request Friday during a hearing for a complaint filed the union representing the workers on strike at Claymont. The union is requesting an injunction against Claymont to halt their use of temporary replacement workers during the labor strike. The union is also asking the judge to make Dennison and Uhrichsville start enforcing their ordinances. The judge says he won’t be granting or denying either those requests until he determines whether the ordinances are constitutional.
“That’s what I’ve asked the lawyers to do then in this is case is to give me the benefit of their legal expertise and research concerning these types of ordinances, whether they’ve been enacted in other jurisdictions in Ohio or outside of Ohio, and if so, have they been challenged for constitutional reasons, and if so, have courts upheld their constitutionality or not,” O’Farrell says. “All of that is very important for me to have in deciding whether these ordinances, in this case, are constitutional.”
The judge gave Claymont, Dennison, and Uhrichsville until April 19th to submit their written legal argument, and the union until April 30th to file a response. The judge says the school district and two towns will then have a week to reply, and after that, they will schedule another court hearing.
“When this briefing schedule is completed and I make a decision on the constitutionality of these ordinances, we will schedule that hearing immediately for consideration,” he says.
Uhrichsville Law Director and Dennison Solicitor JJ Ong says they’ve asked the judge to weigh in on not only whether the ordinances are constitutional but also on whether the workers being used by the school meet those ordinances’ definition of a professional strikebreaker.
“Those ordinances have a provision that says, in essence, defines a professional strikebreaker as somebody who routinely and customarily takes the place of a striking employee,” he says. “The investigation by the departments thus far has been that the replacement workers are workers either put through the educational service center who routinely serve as replacement workers during the school year for other school districts. The custodians apparently are individuals from the community who have elected to cross the picket line.”
Union attorney Thomas Drabick says their position is that these ordinances are constitutional and enforceable.
“I think it is there to protect the longstanding members of the community who work in these institutions as opposed to outsiders coming in and taking over their jobs when there’s a labor dispute, and I think that is a legitimate police power for the city,” he says.
The Claymont Board of Education in a written statement said they look forward to the opportunity to provide the court with information regarding the unconstitutionality and unenforceability of both ordinances.
The judge says the earliest date for another hearing would be May 7th.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV