A driver was arrested after police said he revved his car engine and struck a striker amid a group of protesters Thursday morning outside Verizon headquarters in Bohemia.
A second striker also said he was hit, but had declined to press charges against the driver, who that striker described as “a security guard” working at the site.
Suffolk County police said neither striker was injured, but said the second striker hit was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure due to an unrelated medical issue.
The incident occurred at 7:17 a.m. outside the Verizon building on Knickerbocker Avenue. Verizon is involved in an ongoing contract dispute with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
The two unions, which represent nearly 40,000 installers, customer service employees, repairmen and other service workers in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., have been on strike since walking off the job on April 13. Those workers had been working without a contract since August and the unions have said they’re striking because Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers.
Police said that Thursday morning the driver, in a Mercedes-Benz, “revved his engine and drove into one [person], then put the car in reverse” and later hit the second man.
The driver, Curtis Duncan, 35, of Belmont Avenue, West Babylon, was charged with one count of second-degree reckless endangerment — a misdemeanor, police said.
He was released on station house bail and will be arraigned at a later date.
The first striker, who identified himself as Jeff O’Shaunnessy, 52, of Patchogue, said he is a splicer who has worked for Verizon for 29 years. He said about 25 to 30 strikers were at the site and said they were “razzing” a security guard who was leaving the site in an older model silver Mercedes-Benz.
“We were razzing him, he was yelling back at us,” O’Shaunnessy said. “We kept walking in front of him and he got a little aggressive and he hit me, but not really enough to hurt me ... Then, he backed up about 30 feet, got out of his car.”
O’Shaunnessy said the driver then went into his trunk, but he wasn’t sure why. He said other pickets shot video footage of what was happening and said the driver then re-entered the car, gunned the engine, came “flying up” to the protesters in the line — but said, “He didn’t really stop in time, catching one guy.”
O’Shaunnessy said the striker who was hit had his “legs buckle on him” but said it wasn’t clear if that striker was hurt — or if he later had an unrelated medical issue.
He said: “The driver was just very aggressive.”
A Verizon spokesman, Richard J. Young, said the company has an injunction barring striking workers from harassing employees who are still on the job, but said that order is not being enforced.
“This is what happens when pickets admittedly taunt and harass our employees and others who are doing nothing more than trying to serve our customers,” Young said in a statement to Newsday on Thursday. “The Court [in New York] agreed with us that this conduct must stop — and we obtained a statewide injunction to stop such behavior. Despite this court order — pickets are still being encouraged to physically block and obstruct vehicles, and these are dangerous activities are clearly putting our employees and others in harm’s way.”
Police said the investigation is continuing and said detectives were checking out video from the scene to determine if additional charges were warranted.