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John G. Edwards

Judge Blocks Strikers' Picket

10 September 2004

LAS VEGAS –- A judge Thursday ordered a temporary end to union picketing at several locations after hearing a complaint that a strike against convention service companies was becoming "increasingly hostile and violent."

District Judge Stewart Bell issued a temporary restraining order against picketing at the Las Vegas Convention Center and numerous other convention sites, based on allegations that striking Teamsters & Truck Drivers Local 631 members were carrying guns, making threats and vandalizing property belonging to GES Exposition Services.

The union's "mass picketing has become increasingly hostile and violent," according to a document filed by Mark Ricciardi, an attorney for GES.

Attempts to reach Teamsters' leaders and their attorney for comment late Thursday were unsuccessful.

Teamsters Local 631 has been blocking cars from exiting a parking lot at the Las Vegas Convention Center, according to a GES document.

"In addition, the union has been engaging in acts of dangerous vandalism by cutting brake lines on GES' trailers and pulling air hoses from trucks," the document states.

"Union picketers have been spitting on (GES) employees and intimidating employees by hitting trucks with picket signs and rocks," according to GES' application.

The document mentions reports that pickets were carrying guns "and threatening GES employees and their families" and have "thrown down sharpened nails" to damage vehicles.

GES filed the application for the temporary restraining order on Wednesday.

Based on the allegations, Bell signed an order at 1:17 p.m. Thursday temporarily banning the Teamsters from picketing at several local convention sites.

Those locations include Strip casinos, such as Bellagio, The Venetian, Caesars Palace, the Riviera and Mandalay Bay, as well as off-Strip properties, such as Rio, Las Vegas Hilton and the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas. Other locations mentioned in the order included the Thomas and Mack Center, Cashman Field and GES' operational headquarters.

The judge ordered a hearing Sept. 24 on whether to replace the temporary order with a preliminary injunction.

The legal action follows a vote by Teamsters members Saturday to reject a contract offer from GES and The Freeman Cos. As a result, a reported 2,400 union workers went on strike.

The union workers set up and take down booths for exhibitors at conventions.

The workers, who receive basic wages of $21.86 per hour, rejected proposals from the convention services companies to raise pay by $2.50 per hour.

The strike is taking place just as Las Vegas' slow summertime convention season is ending and the busy fall season is beginning. Some local officials fear the strike could hurt what is expected to be the strongest fall convention schedule in the city's history.

John G. Edwards
John G. Edwards