South Bay Digest

Carson : $25-Million Claim Filed

December 05, 1985

A city employees' union has filed a claim for $25 million in damages against the City of Carson and Los Angeles County for videotaping picketing workers during a labor dispute.

In a claim filed Nov. 21 with Carson and the county, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 809 charged that the taping violated the workers' right to free speech.

The filming was conducted Aug. 13 at the city's request by the Sheriff's Department, said union attorney Gilbert Gaynor. Law enforcement officers taped the workers for about five minutes from a vehicle parked near Avalon Boulevard and Carson Street, he said.

"We believe it was designed to have a chilling effect on the right to free speech," Gaynor said. "We also believe the City of Carson was using the Sheriff's Department as a private security force, which is a violation of the neutrality (law enforcement) should have in such circumstances."

Gaynor said that if the claim is rejected, the union may file a lawsuit against the city and the county.

City Atty. Glenn Watson said he would not comment on the videotaping, but said: "I think the claim is ridiculous. . . . It doesn't have any merit."

The Carson labor dispute, which remains unsettled, involves pay and benefits and has lasted more than seven months. Employees represented by the union are being paid under the provisions of their old contract, which expired in late June.

The city and the union are expected to meet later this month with a state mediator. A meeting with the mediator in early November ended without agreement.

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