University issues restraining order against Kent State labor union

Matt Merchant

Kent State University filed for and was granted a temporary restraining order against supporters and members of a workers union it is currently negotiating with.

The order, filed on April 22, restricts demonstrations, picketing and rallying between April 25, 2015 and May 9, 2015.

University President Beverly Warren is scheduled to be inaugurated on May 1, and commencement ceremonies for spring graduation are set for May 9.

An email sent to the Portage County Court of Common Pleas as part of the restraining order cites the possibility of a protest or demonstration by members and supporters of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8, the workers union, as the reason for the injunction.

University officials take legal action on student fair wage protesters from on Vimeo.

The email was sent to Shelby Woodall, a representative of AFSCME Ohio Council 8 and David Shuckert, president of AFSCME Local 153, Akron attorney James Wilkins and Kent State lawyer David Ochmann.

Kent State University’s inauguration week activities and commencement ceremony are important and historic to the campus community. These legal measures are being taken to ensure the events are not interrupted in a way that would detract from the events’ significance or diminish their meaning,” said university spokesman Eric Mansfield. The university believes the court struck a fair balance between protecting the free speech rights of those wishing to picket while assuring the safety and well-being of those attending these significant university events.”

United Students Against Sweatshop, an on-campus student group, has been publicly supporting the workers union. Brianna Foraker, president of Kent State’s USAS chapter, said the student organization is also frustrated with the lack of response from the university but will continue to support in any way it can.

“Whatever the workers plan to do,” she said, “the students will be there in solidarity.”

Contact Matthew Merchant at [email protected]. Mark Oprea and Kaitlynn LeBeau contributed to the reporting of this story.