Police chief’s statement misled the media about officer misconduct, attacked victims’ integrity instead
Dublin, Virginia (March 17, 2008) – Workers targeted by a campaign of union retaliation for continuing to do their jobs during the strike against Volvo Truck have obtained free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and today filed a formal document request under Virginia's Freedom of Information Act. The employees seek information about how the Pulaski Police Department handled complaints about police officers who refused to carry out their public duties as a result of apparent conflicts of interest.
One employee victim specifically objects to a false statement that Police Chief Gary W. Roche made to the Associated Press in which Roche "totally, completely, categorically" denied that officers had refused to file police reports because they had friends and family members participating in the United Auto Workers (UAW) union strike. To the contrary, chief Roche apparently knew of at least one such incident where it required a complaint by Drema Dominguez's neighbor to the police department and to a local television station to cause Police Sergeant Anderson to “correct” Officer Quesenberry.
"Sadly, this situation has resulted in a law enforcement officer falsely attacking the honesty of a woman who tried to report a crime, instead of seeking out the criminals," wrote National Right to Work Foundation Staff Attorney Derek Poteet in his March 17 letter to Chief Roche.
Virginia State law makes it a crime to "attempt to interfere with another in the exercise of his Right to Work… or by the use of insulting or threatening language directed toward such person, to induce or attempt to induce him to quit his employment or refrain from seeking employment."
"Since the strike began, there have been numerous instances of nails being placed in the driveways of Volvo employees who continue to work. The union’s insulting and threatening language on the picket line was being constantly directed at Volvo workers, to attempt to induce them to quit, and it was obscene and explicit. Obscenity is not protected speech. The display of open coffins, labeled “scab,” is a blatant union endorsement of violence against these honest, hard-working citizens.
"Employees’ windshields have been smashed and tires slashed. Union militants have been stalking my clients and terrifying their children. Certain union militants are terrorizing law-abiding citizens and their families, and it is my understanding that even though some have been caught in the act, no one has been charged," continued Poteet.
Poteet demanded an apology from Chief Roche for essentially calling his client a liar in the press, or to let her know that he was misquoted. He further asked Roche to contact the Associated Press to disavow that statement. And finally, Poteet requested under the Freedom of Information Act copies of all records and communications regarding actions taken to discipline Officer Quesenberry or any other officers for misconduct, and "what steps you will be taking to ensure that the laws of Virginia are enforced by your department, including by officers who happen to have family members or friends who have participated in the strike."
"[Your] false public statement to the media, combined with the failure to enforce Virginia law, only emboldens union militants to engage in increasingly aggressive attacks against workers during and after this Volvo strike – and in the future," wrote Poteet.