Representatives of the Teamsters union extended a Wednesday morning strike deadline against 17 of the nation's auto hauling operations as they tried to hammer out a new labor contract.
Negotiators from the union and the National Automobile Transporters Assn. met until the early hours of today, trying to avoid a strike by more than 12,000 truckers and other union workers.
Chip Roth, a spokesman for the union, said just after the Wednesday strike deadline passed that "it looks like we're getting very, very close to a settlement." He said, "We're not going to strike as long as we're making progress."
The Teamsters had originally planned a strike beginning Tuesday morning, when their contract expired, if they could not reach a new agreement with the auto haulers. But at the last minute, management presented a plan that addressed Teamster concerns over wage, health and pension benefits. The union then extended the deadline for 24 hours.
On Tuesday, the two sides reached an agreement to equalize pay rates that have differed for drivers in some parts of the country.
A day earlier the union declared victory in a dispute over the possible use of Mexican drivers to deliver cars in the United States. The trucking companies agreed not to use Mexican drivers once they have full access to U.S. trucking markets, beginning this January, as called for in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Editor's Note: Our thanks to the Truckin' Bozo Radio Network, Interstate Radio Network and the Road Gang for broadcasting live reports from RoadStar Radio News on this breaking news story.