Judge orders MAC to renew picket permit

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In response to a lawsuit by striking airline mechanics, a Hennepin County judge on Nov. 23 ordered the Metropolitan Airports Commission to restore a permit it had revoked for picketing at a prominent location outside Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Justin Cummins, a lawyer representing the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, called the dispute a free-speech issue and said MAC had failed to follow its own regulations that govern constitutionally protected activities.

“They either have to grant us the permit or, if they refuse to do so, they have to give us a hearing,” he said. MAC flatly refused to do either, he said. Judge Marilyn Justman Kaman agreed, saying MAC willfully refused to perform its legal duties; she ordered MAC to issue the disputed permit, and to schedule a hearing on the issue.

The disputed site is on Northwest Drive. It is visible from Highway 5 just east of Post Road. The site is important because of its visibility to motorists and because strikebreakers pass the site to and from work, Cummins said.

MAC revoked the permit in October and refused to renew it “for public safety reasons,” said MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan. He said there were multiple complaints of lights being shined in drivers’ eyes and at least one report of a rock being thrown at a vehicle.

AMFA still has permission to picket at nine other locations.

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