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Published: Friday, 3/30/2001

One union settles; others out at Cedar Point


SANDUSKY - A work stoppage that is delaying opening day preparations at Cedar Point enters a seventh day amid signs that the company is making headway in its campaign to end agreements with labor unions requiring the park to use only unionized construction companies.

Sandusky Local 788 of the Painters' Union, whose members last week joined a sympathy strike in support of unionized plumbers who were locked out by managers, agreed yesterday to drop the requirement.

A dozen members of Local 788 employed at the park approved a new three-year contract that omits the long-standing clause, said Bob Warner, union business agent.

It was unclear whether they would be back on the job today, however. Picketing is to continue by Norwalk Local 42 of the Plumbers and Steamfitters union, whose eight members employed at the park were told March 21 not to return until agreeing to drop the clause on unionized construction companies.

Unionized painters crossed picket lines yesterday for the first time since March 22 when the lock-out began. Mr. Warner, the union's business manager, said individual members will have to decide for themselves whether they should continue to do so. Contrary to some published reports, the Painters' Union never called a strike.

David Mitchell, business manager for plumbers' Local 42, said he is trying to set up a meeting for early next week with the park's owners, Cedar Fair, L.P., and federal mediator John Wines.

“I'm hopeful were going to be able to have an agreement,” he said. The two sides, he said, might be able to reach a “middleground” on the issue of non-union construction companies.

Officials of Cedar Fair have said the change is necessary if the facility is to stay competitive with Paramount's King's Island near Cincinnati and Six Flags of Ohio near Cleveland. They said they would seek elimination of the union-contractor requirement in each of its several union contracts.

The plumbers' union, meanwhile, indicated it has considered asking union members throughout the region to boycott the area's premier attraction if the contract is not settled satisfactorily. Union officials not connected to Cedar Point, known throughout the country for its roller coasters, have told The Blade they would support such action if the local union asked.

The park is scheduled to open May 6. About 110 workers represented by four Cedar Point unions have stayed home in sympathy with the plumbers, delaying ride repairs and other work. The park, however, has used non-union workers for some of the work.

Robin Innes, a Cedar Point spokesman, confirmed efforts are being made to try to arrange a meeting with the plumbers' union. Meanwhile, he added: “The lock-out still continues.”

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