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Published: Saturday, 6/11/2005

Union leaders say Cedar Point isn't part of Geauga Lake labor dispute

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The Geauga Lake Amusement Park in Aurora, Ohio, has been a family tradition since 1888.
The Geauga Lake Amusement Park in Aurora, Ohio, has been a family tradition since 1888.
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Several Cleveland-area labor unions are refusing to patronize both Geauga Lake and Cedar Point this summer following a dispute over construction of a water park at Geauga Lake.

But union solidarity may not extend west of Cleveland.

An official with the Laborers union in Sandusky, home to Cedar Fair LP, the parent company of the two amusement parks, said he doesn't think a boycott should extend to Cedar Point.

A Toledo labor official said he also doesn't think Cedar Point is a problem, since some of its workers are union members.

In Cleveland, unions and others affiliated with labor have canceled catered picnics they had planned to hold at the two parks because Cedar Fair hired a nonunion contractor to build Wildwater Kingdom, a $26 million water park that opens next Saturday at Geauga Lake, located about 20 miles southeast of Cleveland.

However, at least four labor unions - Plumbers and Steamfitters; Painters; Laborers, and Electrical Workers - represent workers who do maintenance and other work at Cedar Point.

Tim Dunlap, secretary-treasurer of Local 480, Laborers, in Sandusky said his union heard about the flap in Cleveland and members likely won't patronize Geauga Lake. But he doesn't agree that Cedar Point should be included.

"I don't think we'd go to Geauga Lake. As a practical matter, we don't hold our picnic at Cedar Point or Geauga Lake. We have a picnic here at our union hall," Mr. Dunlap said. "But if we did hold a picnic elsewhere, we would take it here to Cedar Point. Cedar Point is not the problem."

Toledo area AFL-CIO council President George Tucker, who also is head of the United Labor Committee in Toledo, agreed that it would be hard to boycott Cedar Point since it employs union workers and the water park was built at Geauga Lake.

Canceling the union-sponsored picnics could be costly to Cedar Fair. The picnics involve admission to the park and catered lunches. Members also often stay at Cedar Fair-owned hotels.

Picnic cancellations have come from Cleveland-area construction unions, firefighters, and the credit union that sponsors a summer picnic for up to 10,000 participants of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880. The credit union usually spent between $125,000 and $180,000 on gate fees, manager Cindy Collin said.

Cedar Fair had filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Tri-County Building and Construction Trades Council in May after the council called on unions to cancel their picnics. The company argued that Tri-County's fight was not with Cedar Fair, but with the nonunion contractors that the trades council would like to organize.

The Cleveland office of the National Labor Relations Board dismissed both complaints Thursday.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or (419) 724-6128.



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