A threatened unfair labor practices strike by the Teamsters union against Overnite Transportation didn't materialize this weekend, but the union says it is waiting to catch the trucking company unprepared.
Overnite has moved hundreds of employee volunteers into place in areas where the Teamsters are strongest, such as Indianapolis and Memphis, TN. A Teamsters spokesman told RoadStar Radio News that the union is sitting tight and letting Overnite spend money doing this.
Although the Teamsters have won elections to represent a percentage of Overnite drivers and dock workers - 15% to 45%, depending on whether you ask the union or the company - they have been unable to get a contract at any of the company's terminals.
One of the key areas of dissension on a contract is the pension fund. Industry analysts believe the union is targeting Overnite because its fully funded pension plan could help shore up the Teamsters' pension fund. Overnite wants to keep control of the pension plan, while the Teamsters want to put the money into a union fund.
The union announced that two upcoming elections for Teamster representation have been withdrawn, in Los Angeles and Syracuse, NY. While the Teamsters say this move is because of the impending strike and "because of unfair labor practices that have tainted the election atmosphere," Overnite is claiming victory. "This is the third Overnite victory in Los Angeles in as many years," says a company press release. "In October 1997, the Teamsters blocked a scheduled election in order to avoid certain defeat. When that vote finally was allowed to proceed in April 1998, Overnite's Los Angeles employees rejected the Teamsters."
At the same time, Overnite's Cincinnati terminal has filed a decertification petition, and the National Labor Relations Board has certified the Teamsters election of the small Laredo, TX, facility.
In other Teamsters news, union president James Hoffa has said he is not interested in being a potential presidential running mate for Pat Buchanan. "Mr. Buchanan is a strong advocate of tough trade policies that would protect American workers and the middle class," Hoffa said in a prepared statement released yesterday. "But, as I told Mr. Buchanan today, I am not interested at this time in playing a role in presidential politics. … Before the workers of America need a Teamster leader involved in presidential politics, they need a Teamsters union restored to its former strength."