Violence Reported In Teamsters Strike
October 31, 1999
As the Teamsters strike against less-than-truckload carrier Overnite Transportation enters its second week, scattered episodes of violence are being reported on both sides.
According to published reports, an Overnite driver was pulled from his truck and beaten near Overnite's St. Louis, MO, terminal four days into the strike. Several drivers at Overnite's Memphis, TN, terminal, where the strike began Oct. 24, reportedly have been shot at by Teamsters supporters. The Teamsters reported Friday that police in Bridgeton, MO, arrested a non-striking Overnite driver for threatening picketers.
Stanley Wright was charged with third-degree assault for attacking the Overnite driver in St. Louis in the early hours of Wednesday morning. It wasn't known whether Wright was an Overnite employee or a Teamsters member. The driver suffered minor injuries.
In the Bridgeton incident, picketing Teamsters said the driver paused at the picket line and yelled from his window that if the picketers wanted to try to stop him from crossing their line, he had something in his car for them. He appeared to reach under his seat, and drove into the terminal. Police later found a gun hidden under the seat.
Meanwhile, the union and the company continue to report vastly differing accounts of the situation.
Overnite reports that its freight volume continues to build despite the picketing efforts. However, the Teamsters claim the strike has resulted in the loss of nearly 20% of Overnite's business. The Teamsters also are putting out press releases that Overnite's third-quarter profits have fallen by 33% since a year ago, while "business is booming for Overnite's competitors." The union attributes the drop to the fact that the company has been "embroiled in unfair labor practice unrest." The company has had to spend funds bringing in and housing replacement workers.
The Teamsters claim they are picketing three-fourths of the companies 166 facilities. Overnite says there are only about 30 facilities where employees did not report for work. The company says many of the picketers are not Overnite employees. "We'll leave it up to the Teamsters to try to count the pickets outside the gates," said Overnite Chairman and CEO Leo Suggs. "We'll count the people inside our gates moving tens of thousands of shipments every day through our system."