Troy-based company hired to break Grand Rapids Gravel workers strike
Yesterday, we posted a second story about the Grand Rapids Gravel workers strike. In that story we identified a company hired to provide security, but the name was inaccurate.
We now know that the company’s name is Huffmaster. Based out of Troy, Michigan, Huffmaster considers itself “as the leading provider of strike management solutions.”
Huffmaster has been around for 45 years and has a long history of working for companies that use scab workers and seek to bust up unions. In the late 1990s, the parent company of the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press hired Huffmaster to provide 480 security personnel to protect the scab workers hired by another company. Huffmaster was also hired to break the strike of a teachers’ union in Toledo in earlier this year.
According to the company’s website:
Huffmaster has earned its reputation as the leading strike management resource on the front lines of many of the nation’s most difficult and high-profile labor disputes. As a result, few companies can match our depth of experience or our range of services. We can assist with all aspects of pre-strike contingency planning and, if a work stoppage occurs, we can provide replacement workers, strike-trained uniformed officers and a full array of supporting services. With a unique combination of experience and single-source capabilities, Huffmaster is the proven choice for strike management solutions.
Another aspect of Huffmaster, which is common in security companies, is that the management team includes former military personnel. The President and Vice President of the company both served in the US military, with President Gregory Johnson having served in the US Army Special Forces.
The military connection to Huffmaster doesn’t end there, however. One of the “associations” the company boasts online is with ASIS International. ASIS International has been a major beneficiary of the US led War on Terror and has won major taxpayer funded contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Indeed, Huffmaster has also profited handsomely since the 2011 declared War on Terror. They provide consulting, security and surveillance services in the US for companies that “might be potential targets of terrorist attacks,” such as chemical companies. Huffmaster produced this video a few years ago that used the War on Terror as a pretext to sell its services.
However, the company’s bread and butter lies with strike breaking in the US. According to the company:
When a strike occurs – whether expected or unexpected – Huffmaster’s strike security professionals can rapidly respond to secure your facilities, deter strike-related violence and support your continuing operations with:
Picket Line Security – Our highly specialized strike security officers are trained to deter picket misconduct and, when necessary, keep driveways clear using defensive formations.
Property Protection – Designed to help prevent sabotage and/or vandalism to your facility and equipment through high visibility and deterrence.
Mobile Protection – Dedicated to protecting drivers, trucks and other mobile assets by deterring misconduct on the road.
Evidence Collection – Highly specialized officers are trained in investigative and evidence gathering techniques, which include documenting evidence of picket line misconduct for use in injunctions, restraining order hearings or for employee disciplinary purposes.
Command and Control – Experienced site management teams can coordinate every aspect of your strike security operation.
Executive Protection – Our highly trained agents provide low-profile security to company owners, managers and/or family members who may be targeted for harassment during a labor dispute.
While this writer was present at the Grand Rapids Gravel workers picket line on Friday, we observed Huffmaster security guards attempting to blame union workers for throwing roofing nails near the entrance of the Grand Rapids Gravel Co. facility in Grandville and then contacting the Grandville Police. This clearly was a way to intimidate striking workers.
In addition, when striking workers and supporters engaged some of Huffmaster’s guards, one of them made threatening comments as if to provoke a physical confrontation. This was so evident that other Huffmaster security guards had to coax the man back in the van and remove him from the area where the workers were holding the picket line.
You can see from the photo here one Huffmaster security personnel filming the striking workers when the workers were confronting the guards about the fabricated roofing nail incident.
GRIID will continue to provide updates on the Grand Rapids Gravel workers strike, for as long as it lasts. We openly support worker solidarity with these striking workers and believe it is important that people know that the Grand Rapids Gravel Company is using a strike-breaking, scab providing company like Huffmaster.