BLE Division 239 pickets with Teamsters against Overnite

On February 17, members of BLE Division 239 (Knoxville, Tenn.) man ambulatory picket lines with members of Teamster Local 519 in a show of solidarity for their strike against Overnite Transportation, a subsidiary of Union Pacific. From left: Jerrald Limbaugh, BLE Division 239 Legislative Representative; G.T. Wilkerson, Divison 239 Vice-Local Chairman, Yard; Doug Ford, Division 239; Joey Bellemy, Division 239; Charles "Chuck" Davis, Division 239 Secretary-Treasurer; and Larry Trotterchaud, Secretary-Treasruer of Teamster Local 519. Picture courtesy of John Norman of BLE Division 239.


In a show of solidarity, members of BLE Division 239 (Knoxville, Tenn.) helped man ambulatory pickets lines with members of Teamster Local 519 in their ongoing strike against Overnite Transportation.

Division 239 Local Chairman W. M. "Bill" Overton reports that ambulatory picket lines involve following the trucks as they leave the loading facility and while they are making deliveries, continuing to picket in front of drop off points. The Brothers of Division 239 participated in this form of picketing on February 17.

"As many of you know, Overnite is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad," Brother Overton said. "This struggle is turning out to be a long one. I'm sure that the Local Teamsters in your area would appreciate hearing from local BLE Divisions. Remember, we all have problems, and we all need each other."

BLE support for the Teamsters, and vice versa, goes back several years. In 1996, delegates attending the BLE International Convention in Detroit gave $20,000 to striking Teamsters and other union members in their struggle against the Detroit News/Free Press. In July of 1999, Teamster Vice President John Steger delivered a stirring speech at the BLE's "Save Our Craft" march and rally in Washington D.C.

Brother Overton expressed his gratitude to the members of Division 239, "and in particular to the men that worked the picket lines on February 17, for their support of, not only their own union, but another union and its plight."

The unfair labor practice strike against Overnite Company entered its 19th week in early March, making it the longest freight strike in recent history.

The workers have demonstrated an extraordinary resilience in the face of Overnite's refusal to make a binding commitment to obey the law.

In February, Overnite settled another complaint against it for unlawful discharge of workers who participated in the unfair labor practice strike in July 1999.

Overnite had to solemnly promise, once again, to stop breaking the law. Overnite also had to solemnly promise not to condone threats of physical violence against union supporters, not to threaten to close terminals, not to tell workers that management would "lie" about ordering workers not to wear union buttons, and not to discharge workers who were exercising their federally protected rights. Overnite also has to reinstate four illegally discharged workers and pay them the earnings (plus interest) they lost due to the unlawful discharge.

On February 29, the NLRB dismissed Overnite's charge that the Teamsters negotiated in bad faith when it requested to have a mediator at contract negotiations. The NLRB wrote that the Teamsters proposal for a mediator was "a good faith attempt to move negotiations forward after four years and 150-plus bargaining sessions failed to produce an agreement."

Overnite posted a loss of $13 million in profits for the fourth quarter of 1999, which is down $29 million when compared to the $16 million in profits for the same quarter of 1998.

2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers