Teamster strike going strong in 26th week

Contract negotiations between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Overnite Transportation resumed on April 4, 5 and 6, making it a very busy month for the Teamsters. The unfair labor practices strike is entering its 26th week and is still going strong.

The strike against Overnite, a subsidiary of Union Pacific began on Oct. 24, 1999. It started in Memphis, Tenn., and quickly spread to 140 terminals in 39 states.

Overnite's labor law violations are now legendary. More than 1,000 charges against the company have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board, resulting in millions of dollars in restitution for Overnite workers whose rights were violated.

Teamsters began a comprehensive advertising campaign to inform the general public about its struggle with Overnite.

Television and radio commercials started running, newspaper ads started running, a subpoena was delivered to Overnite CEO Suggs for a hearing in Memphis on Overnite unlawful conduct, and the terminal managers were challenged to sign a pledge to obey the law.

Teamster President James P. Hoffa said, "Overnite has forced us to escalate to a new level in our campaign of support for the courageous workers on strike against its unfair labor practices. The Teamsters will spare no resource in our campaign to civilize Overnite."

The advertising campaign will have three prongs - radio, television, and print ads in major markets around the country - all designed to bring Overnite (and its parent company, Union Pacific) to its senses.

Also this month, dozens of Teamsters members, led by John Murphy, International Teamster Vice President and National Director of Organizing, delivered a subpoena to Leo H. Suggs, Overnite's CEO, at Overnite Transportation Company's headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.

Suggs is being subpoenaed for a hearing on a complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The hearing is scheduled for May 8, 2000, in Memphis, Tenn. The hearing is a consolidation of 25 individual charges and will focus on the unlawful firing of Overnite workers and union members Terry Holcomb, Sam Powell, Kenny Hill, Fred Clark, Kyle Medley, William Palmer, Charles Watkins, Autra Wilkerson, K. W. Wilbanks, Tony Brown, Wilford Hugh McCalla and Walter Jones.

In its efforts to make Overnite stop its labor law violations, the Teamsters are now trying a bottom to top approach. Overnite workers and local Teamster leaders delivered an "Overnite Pledge to Obey the Law" to managers at Overnite terminals nationwide.

"This is a simple request," declared John Murphy, International Teamster Vice President and National Director of Organizing. "If we can't get the bosses at Overnite's headquarters to obey the law, hopefully, we can get the lower-level Overnite managers across the country to agree to honor federal laws designed to protect America's working families."

The form that Overnite terminal managers were asked to sign states: "Overnite Pledge to Obey the Law: I, the undersigned Terminal Manager for Overnite Transportation Company, do hereby solemnly swear that I will faithfully obey and uphold all laws pertaining to the rights of Overnite workers." To date, not one single terminal manager has agreed to sign the statement.

Finally, the Teamsters are planning an action at Bed, Bath & Beyond locations across the country on April 29. BB&B is a major freight customer of Overnite.


© 2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers