Protest over loss of cleaning jobs blocks gates at Naples base
Stars and Stripes March 4, 2006
Demonstrators blocked both entrances to the Naval Support Activity Naples Support Site on Friday morning on their third day of protesting the loss of their jobs cleaning Navy Lodge rooms. The protest caused hours-long delays for those entering and leaving the base.
The few dozen people were protesting New Star, a company that received the cleaning contract for the lodge and replaced the existing workers with their own people. The former employees say the move violates Italian law, and they say they should have been hired by New Star.
And while the protest wasn’t directed at the base itself, residents and employees of the base are enduring the repercussions.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Serena Saucedo just wanted to go home. “I just got off the night watch and am headed home to go to sleep,” she said.
She said she understands the right to protest, but doesn’t understand how they were allowed to completely block access to and from the base for hours at a stretch. “Protest, yes, but not block the gates,” she said. “This is ridiculous.”
Navy officials would not comment on the gates being blocked.
A handful of Americans confronted the blockading protesters, and while there were a few shouting matches, there was no violence.
Classes at the base elementary and high schools were canceled Wednesday, and high-school classes began at 10 a.m. Friday, about two hours later than normal.
High-school student Justin Shamp stood among dozens of American and Italian cars stopped by the protesters Friday morning. The 11th-grader took his 90-minute delay in stride.
“I don’t mind missing school for this nice day,” he said. “I wish they would have called us and told us to stay at home.”
The two Department of Defense Dependents Schools facilities weren’t the only schools with class disruptions. University of Maryland canceled its Thursday evening classes because the protesters were blocking the gate.
The protesters said they would continue their vigil at the base until they’re rehired in their old positions. They finally allowed traffic to enter the base shortly before 10 a.m. Friday.