Teamsters to Strike Overnite?

Jonathan Flanders jon_flanders at
Fri Sep 24 21:17:59 MDT 1999

<<Teamsters Ready To Strike Overnite>>

The Teamsters_Overnite battle looks to be perhaps the most significant
labor struggle in the US for the next year or so.

This will be a test for James Hoffa Jr., as he attempts to consolidate his
power in the Teamsters. It also has the potential to throw a wrench into
the labor leadership's efforts to concentrate their energy on
electioneering for Al Gore and a Democratic Congress, which traditionally
have meant downplaying workers struggles that might "embarrass" Democrats
by demanding that they take the side of labor.

The Democratic candidates have been assiduosly courting Hoffa. While Gore
has most of the labor leaders sewed up, Bill Bradley might make a move to
Gore's left in this situation.
Hoffa certainly would not be above flirting with the Reform Party, Pat
Buchanan and the Republicans.

It might seem strange that the heavily unionised Union Pacific Railroad
Corporation would take such a hard line with the Teamsters, but in fact, as
the trucking and rail companies increasingly integrate their operations
using flat-car based van trains and intermodal containers, we can be sure
that they will fight tooth and nail to keep workers unorganized in a sector
where freedom from "hidebound labor work rules" will be a management

One such rule onerous to a railroad owned trucking company is the
Teamster's restrictions on how much freight can be shipped by rail.

Hoffa also must contend with the Teamsters for a Democratic Union sector of
the Teamsters. While their strength is in the package delivery sector in
companies like UPS, any criticisms they have will be heard.

The article appended below quotes a Teamster offical promising ``ambulatory
picketing'' as a tactic. If that really happens things could get
interesting indeed.

Jon Flanders

Date:  24-Sep-99 21:35:09  MsgID: MC2-8649-1BE1  ToID: 72763,2240
From:  SPequignot at >INTERNET:SPequignot at
Subj:  Teamsters Ready To Strike Overnite
Chrg:  $0.00   Imp: Norm   Sens: Std    Receipt: No    Parts: 1

Teamsters Ready To Strike Overnite


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Teamsters union is preparing to strike nonunion
Overnite Transportation, one of the nation's largest trucking companies, at
time when the industry is getting ready for the holiday shopping season.

Contract talks broke off last week and the company has no offer pending.

Teamsters spokesman David Cameron would not be pinned down Friday on when a

strike would begin, saying only it would be ``sooner rather than later. The

Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the walkout could begin as early

The Teamsters have already held two limited strikes against Overnite in the

past year, but Cameron said that if there is a third strike, it will be
extensive, with pickets at all 166 Overnite terminals. The union also is
planning to engage in what it calls ``ambulatory picketing'' - following
Overnite trucks and establishing pickets at their customers' stores.

Forty-five percent of the 8,500 Overnite employees eligible for union
membership are now represented by the Teamsters, Cameron said.

But Ira Rosenfeld, director of corporate communications for Overnite, said
the figure is closer to 15 percent because membership elections at several
terminals are being challenged.

About 1,000 nonunion Overnite drivers have volunteered to work wherever
needed, Rosenfeld said.

``Whenever they go out, this company is ready,'' he said.

Rosenfeld said the battle against the union is key to the future of the
trucking industry.

``There are not that many nonunion trucking companies left,'' he said. ``If

this company were to fall to the Teamsters, the other smaller companies
likely be forced to as well.''

Cameron agreed about the importance of the dispute. He said deregulation
price-cutting in the trucking industry have held down salaries and hurt
membership. A successful campaign at Overnite could reverse that trend, he

Both sides say wages are not a major factor in the strike. Rosenfeld said
nonunion drivers now make about $17 an hour compared to about $19 an hour
Teamsters drivers. In a few years, he said, the nonunion drivers will
actually make slightly more.

A major issue is the pension system. Overnite wants to retain control while

the Teamsters want to put pension money into a union fund.

Overnite, a subsidiary of Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific, competes in the
less-than-truckload industry, in which the trucking company coordinates and

consolidates small shipments of less than a truckload for pickup and

Source: The Associated Press

Distribution by
Steven Pequignot
TCU Internet News

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