Bomb threat deemed a hoax at Loudon plant By MICHAEL SILENCE,
February 16, 2007

A bomb threat Thursday at a Loudon plant where workers are striking turned out to be a hoax, although employees were forced to evacuate, according to law enforcement officials.

The telephoned threat was received at Maremont Exhaust Products about 10:30 a.m., said Sgt. Kent Russell of the Loudon Police Department.

After the plant was searched and no bomb was found, employees returned to work at the auto parts plant, Russell said.

Also Thursday, representatives from Maremont and the union representing striking workers returned to the bargaining table but made no progress.

Dale Smallen, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 2545, which represents 227 of 400 Maremont employees, said the two sides have not reached agreement on the main issue - the cost of health care paid by workers.

When talks will resume is uncertain, Smallen said. Workers have been on strike for two weeks.

"We're still at a standstill," he said, adding that a federal mediator called off Thursday afternoon's negotiations when it was clear the two sides were not in agreement.

Maremont officials could not be reached for comment.

The bomb threat is the second incident involving the strike reported to police in the past two days.

Late Wednesday, a striking worker was hit by a vehicle driven by a security officer working at the plant, according to Loudon authorities.

A Loudon Police Department report said the vehicle driven by John Diggs struck William E. Nix around 6 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of Roberson Springs Road and Maremont Parkway.

Nix was treated and released at an area hospital and Diggs was arrested and charged with driving on a revoked license, the report stated, adding that Diggs was employed by a private security firm.