More than 300 fired air traffic controllers blocked automobile traffic with their cars and bodies at San Francisco International Airport, creating a huge traffic jam for 90 minutes, officials said.
One demonstrator was hit by a car during the Friday night demonstration, authorities said. The picket was taken to the hospital, and was reported in serious condition. Two other protesters were injured slightly.
"We are trying to determine whether it was hit-and-run or whether it was something else," said Lt. Stanley Piett of the airport police. He said he knew of no arrests.
Airport police asked for assistance from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department to untagle the traffic snarl.
A spokesman for the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, many of whose members have been fired since they went on strike Aug. 3, said demonstrators from four Bay Area labor councils and more than 65 other unions and labor organizations participated in the blockade.
Piett said cars used to block traffic on the upper level of the main terminal were towed. Demonstrators then moved to the roadway, obstructing traffic with their bodies, according to police.
Traffic was backed up on U.S. 101, a heavily traveled freeway connecting San Jose and San Francisco, as police struggled to route traffic through the lower level of the complex, said airport police officer Alan Wurdinger.
In Farmington, Minn., meanwhile, 23 wives of air controllers were arrested when they picketed Friday outside the air traffic control center there.
Police said the wives, plus a male teacher, violated a city ordinance forbidding picketing by anyone other than a striker. They were released without bond.
The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union said it would challenge the arrests as an illegal infringement of civil rights.
PATCO spokesman Marcia Feldman said today that the protests were organized in the regional offices, not on the national level. "I think our people are restive and eager to see this issue move off dead center," she said.
"They still are on strike. They still believe they are coming back. They want to keep their cause before the public."