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Cars flipped as replacement workers arrive at Visteon plant

/ Source: The Associated Press

Two cars were flipped Tuesday night and one set on fire as strikers at a Visteon Corp. auto parts plant tried to stop four buses that brought replacement workers into the factory.

That action was the latest in several confrontations at the plant since the strike began early Sunday after members of International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America Local 907 voted to reject a contract offer.

"It turned into an ugly mob," state police Sgt. Robert Hedger said Wednesday.

Three people were arrested, one for throwing a brick at vehicles leaving the plant and the other two for obstructing officers who were trying to clear the highway in front of the plant, Hedger said.

The cars turned over and the one set on fire were junk yard cars brought in by either strikers or those in the community to try to block the plant entrance, Hedger said. As many as 200 protesters were at the plant Tuesday night, he said

It was quiet outside the plant Wednesday.

The company had announced in April that it would end the Bedford plant's production of fuel delivery modules, eliminating as many as 600 of its 1,150 jobs. Union workers fill about 1,025 of the plant's jobs.

Visteon spokeswoman Tammera Hallums said a tentative agreement between the two sides had been announced May 23, but the union rank-and-file rejected it.

Union members said as many as 12 strikers sought hospital treatment for injuries they suffered Sunday in confrontations with security guards at the factory about 25 miles south of Bloomington.

Hallums, speaking from Visteon's headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., said the company hired security guards in part because pickets were blocking entrances, throwing nails down to puncture tires, and striking vehicles carrying workers inside the plant gates.

"We certainly recognize the union's right to strike, but we too have rights, one of which is to continue production in order to protect our customers," Hallums said.

Hallums said the company has hired temporary workers to work with managers doing production work, and some production has been moved temporarily to other plants during the strike. She said she did not know how many temporary workers had been hired.

Charlie Craig, who had been with Visteon for 26 years, said the union members were reacting to the security guards.

"Before the negotiations started, we had peaceful protests out here," he said. "It would still be peaceful, but they've made (the facility) look like a big fortress."