Not-so-gentle reminders

By land and by sea locked-out newspaper workers continue to spread their message that the long-running labor dispute with the city’s dailies is not over.

Before the annual Detroit News river cruise last Friday night, locked-out workers and supporters shouted, "No justice, no peace," and attempted to hand out "scab certificates" to those boarding the boat. When it set sail, protesters followed in two speed boats, bullhorns in hand, ensuring that the cruise was not a peaceful one.

Dennis Nazelli, a locked-out district manager, says he and 30 others, who gathered near Chene Park where the boat launched, refuse to let the two newspapers and the community think that the four-year labor struggle is over.

"They say the strike is over, but everyone (at the two newspapers) is without a contract and still 600 people are without jobs. The newspapers have to be held accountable," says Nazelli.

Tim Kelleher, vice president of labor relations for the Detroit Newspapers, says there are about 435 workers on a recall list. As for the group’s escapades, Kelleher says, "They are certainly entitled to do what the law permits."

Saturday night, seven locked-out workers and supporters spent 14 hours on a makeshift raft alongside Detroit Free Press Publisher Heath Meriwether’s home. Meriwether lives on Barton Pond, off the Huron River. Police quickly confiscated loudspeakers, says Nazelli. But this did not prevent the crew from anchoring "No News or Free Press wanted here" signs in the pond.

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