Apr 10, 2006

Toledo Blade the Focus of Beech Street Protest

Left: Protesters gather in front of Toledo Blade building; all photos by historymike

(Toledo, OH) Surrounded by dozens of Toledo Police riot squad officers, mounted patrolmen, and SWAT teams, a crowd of perhaps 1,000 people rallied outside the Toledo Blade building this afternoon to protest the paper's commitment to fair bargaining practices.

Union employees of the Toledo Blade, who are engaged in contract talks with the paper, were joined by representatives of numerous Toledo unions, including the UAW, the AFL-CIO, and the Teamsters.

Police snipers and SWAT teams sat atop the Blade building and surrounding structures in a show of force to prevent the crowd from turning violent.

Left: Officers deployed on and above Beech Street across from the Blade building

However, the mood of the crowd was more akin to that found at an outdoor rock concert, especially with the balmy 60 degree temperatures. I sang along to Elvis Costello's "Pump it Up," blasting from a PA system, as I snapped pictures in the crowd and around the perimeter of the Blade building.

"Hey, friend - it's too nice of a day for a riot," joked one protester to a uniformed officer.

Speakers at the rally repeatedly urged the crowd to remain peaceful, but there was no point at which the protesters were anything but cheerful.

Officials from a variety of local unions addressed the crowd from the back of an 18-wheeled stage.

Left: Teamsters president Bill Lichtenwald greeting friends in the crowd

"Just because Toledo is a strong union town does not mean we can't work together," said Bill Lichtenwald. "But tell me - what are we going to gain by hiring two part-time workers to replace one full-time Blade employee?"

Lichtenwald lauded the efforts of union Blade employees.

"All I ever hear the Blade employees talk about is how proud they are of this paper," he said. "These are the people who have made the Block family millions of dollars over the past 80 years."

Many of the speakers - and most of the crowd - focused their ire on the law firm of King and Ballow, hired by the Blade to negotiate with its unions. Blade writer Larry Vellequette led the crowd in a rousing version of "King and Ballow," sung to the tune of the Kingsmen's 1963 hit "Louie, Louie":

Left: The Blade's Larry Vellequette

King and Ballow
Whoa, whoa
You gotta go!

Dennis Duffy, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 8, said that the represenatives of King and Bellew were "some of the most bloodthirsty negotiators" he has ever dealt with at the bargaining table.

"I have been in the business of negotiating contracts since 1980, and I have never seen the likes of these people," he said, leading the crowd in a chant of "Send them back to Tennessee!"

Left: Riot police marching up Beech Street

Interactions between protesters and the uniformed and plainclothes officers were polite and friendly. Danny Smith, director of the Toledo Port Council, reminded the crowd that the police "are union brothers and sisters with a job to do."

Given recent Glass City disturbances, one can forgive Mayor Carty Finkbeiner for erring on the side of caution.

One protester, however, questioned the expenditures.

"Will the Toledo Blade be paying all of the overtime for these four or five dozen police?" he asked me.

I suspect that the answer to that question will be "no."


Hooda Thunkit said...

I too suspect that Carty won't be sending out any invoices for services rendeded on this one.

Looked like a very nice day for a stroll though ;-)

Anonymous said...

hey tpd got some overtime at last

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hooda Thunkit said...

SHoulda guessed you'd be out in the fresh air, strollin an snappin...

historymike said...

Goofy spammers.

Yes, it was a beautiful day, and the music was an added bonus.

Maggie Thurber said...

Mike - it's BILL Lichtenwald of the Teamsters, not Don.

Nice report. Were there really 1,000? Interesting.

I know that they closed the Government Center garage at the request of the police...when I asked for the reasoning, I was told because they wanted to make sure that the top two floors, where public parking is, were secured and because they were going to use those floors for police.

Here's another question - when the unions protested downtown against Wal-Mart, did they bring out the riot gear? It never occurred to me that these unions would be even remotely violent...

historymike said...


I can't believe I put that in there; I must be reading too much Toledo Tales. Thanks for the sharp eyes; I did manage to get Bill's Technorati tag right.

While driving home I heard WSPD say that there were "300 protesters and 130 police."

Both numbers are waaaaay off.

I counted 300 by 4:15 pm, and the crowd more than doubled by 4:45 or so.

Plus there were people milling all over Huron, Orange, and the other nearby streets, listening from a distance. The police made people go in the "protest zone" in one place, so some just hung back a bit.

As far as police, there could only be that many if they counted everyone on duty from Central Command. heck, that number is about what they had for the first Nazi rally, and there were many more police at that event.

I counted 4 mounted, about a dozen SWAT personnel, 3 video officers, 4-5 snipers, 2 dozen or so riot police, and another dozen or so on taffic detail.

Plus the helicopter squad.

No armored personnel carrier, though.

Maybe the 130 figure was every officer available.

I did not see anywhere near that kind of police presence for WalMart, and there were a total of 2-3 dozen at that event.

Anonymous said...

It's King and Ballow...numbnuts..try Google..the resource for rookie journos,,,

historymike said...

Thanks for the update, Mr. Ballow. Sorry for the misspelling.

-Sepp said...

Strange, I can't seem to find any mention of this on the blade's webpage :-)

Stephanie said...

So, they were protesting because they weren't getting what they want in negotiations. Why is it that unions remind me so much of unruly children nowadays?

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