The Teamsters union Friday said it would accept Overnite Transportation's offer of a nationwide vote on union representation. But the union attached so many conditions to its acceptance, Overnite says it's just a publicity stunt.
One of the Teamsters' key demands in accepting a vote is that the union wants to exclude the 37 terminals it claims to represent. Overnite says the actual number is only 22, and in 10 of those locations, there have been petitions to the National Labor Relations Board to decertify the union as their bargaining representative.
"We want to allow everyone who's eligible to vote - that's all drivers, all dock workers and all clerical workers, in 166 terminals - to give them the opportunity to decide if they want this company to be a union company or to remain as it has for 65 years, independent," says Overnite spokesman Ira Rosenfeld. "We'll abide by their decision."
Another Teamsters demand was that Overnite CEO Leo Suggs debate Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa during a six-month campaign period. "They've been trying to organize this company strenuously for five years," Rosenfeld says. "I don't see why they need another six months to get their point across."
Talks between the company and the union broke off Sept. 17. The Teamsters have been threatening a nationwide unfair labor practices strike, which has yet to materialize. Overnite has put replacement workers into place just in case, as well as hired security personnel.
Rosenfeld says while the battle over union representation is not affecting Overnite's operations, the company wants to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible. Because the union keeps threatening to strike, customers are getting nervous. The Teamsters claim that Overnite's freight volume is below anticipated levels because of the situation.
Meanwhile, the Teamsters announced yesterday that the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed or blocked decertification petitions at Overnite terminals in Cincinnati, OH, Memphis, TN, and Tupelo, MS. The union has accused Overnite of engineering these decertification campaigns, which is against the law.