Ravens site picketed over nonunion labor

Broken windshield injures worker entering complex

September 16, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

A construction worker was injured early yesterday when someone hurled a brick or rock through his car windshield as he drove into the new Ravens complex in Owings Mills, Baltimore County police said.

The 5:30 a.m. incident marked the start of a daylong protest that drew dozens of members of the Baltimore carpenters union who said they are angry that nonunion workers have been used for construction of the Ravens complex. They said they would return every workday until the Ravens start using union employees.

"We were promised this work by the Ravens," said Gus Lester, president of the local union. "We took them at their word. We shouldn't have."

In the 5:30 a.m. incident, someone in front of the Ravens complex threw a rock or brick through the windshield of an arriving worker's vehicle, county police said. The man received facial injuries from the shattered glass, police said. They did not release the man's name, pointing to concern for his safety.

No one was arrested for throwing the brick, police said, adding that a Ravens sign was torn down as well. A team of special response officers holding shields stood watch over the group until just before noon.

The $30 million headquarters and training facility, scheduled to open next month, has been built mostly by nonunion contractors and by contractors who use out-of-state workers, union officials said. Recently, a contract for millwork was awarded to a North Carolina company, which hired nonunion employees from Texas to do the job, union officials said.

Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said the bulk of the construction at the Owings Mills complex has been done by local workers, who have been a mix of union and nonunion employees.

One protester held a cardboard sign yesterday that read: "What part of North Carolina Ravens don't you understand?"

Unemployed carpenters stood at the complex's entryway on Deer Park Road and heckled workers and deliverymen who crossed the picket line.

Bill Pestridge of Baltimore, a union member and carpenter for 18 years, said he protested yesterday because he felt cheated by the Ravens.

"I'm a big supporter of the Ravens," he said. "And then they turn around and give our jobs away."

Lester and other protesters shouted, "Go home, there's no work today" at workers arriving yesterday.

Lester said that the union protesters were successful in keeping "about 80 percent" of arriving workers from crossing the picket line.

However, Byrne said he wasn't aware of any worker absences because of the protest.

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