Printed from Kansas City IMC

Commentary: Protest Activity
Kansas City Labor Against the War (affiliated with U.S. Labor Against the War) some time ago announced an informational picket line at Black & Veatch offices at 8400 Ward Parkway to be held on February 24th from 4:30 to 5:30 PM. This was in conjunction with other activities around the country noting the war profiteering of companies like Halliburton, and to make note of Black & Veatch doing work for the Army Corp of Engineers in Iraq. A bout of flu kept me from checking this out for myself, but I heard that only a small handful of picketers had showed up by 4:30. But measured in terms of impact per picketer, this is an interesting lesson in how much power a few people can have.

The day before the scheduled picket, an email was sent out to all the B&V; employees telling them that because of the looming protest activity, they were all to leave the building at 3PM. The email included strict warnings that employees were not to print it out nor forward it, one employee told me. They were told not to speak to protestors, and that while they did not necessarily expect violence, there would be a police presence in addition to company security. Sounds like something hit a nerve with B&V; brass…

The last report I had from someone driving around the scene around 4:30 was that the company had parked trucks to block all entrances to the site, and other than that no company or police presence was noticed. A group of about six protestors had grown to about nine or ten by the time the observer had made a couple of passes and gone home.

After the first email, some employees seemed a little amused at what a big deal the company seemed to be making of things, but thankful for a chance to leave work two hours early. The day of the picket, however, they received another email from management informing them that they had to make up the time. The big bosses, perhaps feeling a little guilty, panic at the prospect of a small informational picket, and of course the employees pay the price for their bosses’ foolishness. But it is interesting what an impact a small group of interested citizens can have on a big company.

Incidentally, February 24th, the day of the huge protest was also the birthday of Black & Veatch CEO Dennis Rodman. Oops. Make that Len Rodman. Happy Birthday Mr. Rodman.
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