Violence Mars Picketing at Kohler Plant in Searcy

SEARCY, AR - What had, for the most part, been civil picketing at the on-going strike at Searcy's Kohler plant was marred by a series of ugly incidents in recent weeks.

The incidents were apparently spurred by the labor union's withdrawal of three of four charges before the federal Labor Relations Board.

Members of United Auto Workers local 1000 rejected a proposed contract in December and began striking at the stainless steel sink factory, which then hired replacement workers.

One of the replacement workers claims he was injured last month when exiting the driveway of the factory on his motorcycle.  Jon Hicks said a picketer lunged at him, causing Hicks to swerve and then strike an on-coming vehicle.  Hicks was treated at a Searcy hospital for a broken collarbone and bruises.  Hicks said he missed three days of work and plans to file a civil suit against the union.

There also have been several allegations of vandalism in recent weeks, and Kohler is now using video surveillance of the picket lines.