It's a Lonely Vigil for Far-Out Picket

Up in the Santa Monica Mountains west of Malibu, Harvey Krueger mans what is surely one of the loneliest picket lines in the lengthening strike against American Telephone & Telegraph Co.

"Some of the local (residents) wave as they go by," said Krueger, a technician, who works at the AT&T; "earth station" near Mulholland Highway where three 105-foot-diameter dishes relay long-distance calls to satellites in space.

"I walk back and forth and rest for an hour," said the 43-year-old North Hollywood father of two, "and then I walk back and forth some more."

Krueger belongs to the Communications Workers of America, which has been on strike against the giant long-distance phone firm since June 1 in a dispute over a new three-year contract.

"You can't just sit," Krueger said. "You have to be visible. There has to be some representation of a strike going on even though it is a remote site."

Arriving at 7:30 a.m. at his lonely post, Krueger knows he won't be joined by another striker for about three hours. In all, seven pickets, all workers at the satellite station, have picket line duty in overlapping six-hour shifts.

Krueger often chats with a bee keeper who comes around fairly often to tend his hives near the satellite dishes. And then, he said, there is someone doing scientific research on the rattlesnakes that populate the AT&T; site.

In fact, he said, pointing down the highway, "a rattlesnake crossed the road there last week."

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