As the Teamsters' unfair labor practices strike enters its fourth week, the National Labor Relations Board has ordered Overnite Transportation to bargain with the Teamsters at four Overnite Transportation terminals.
The NLRB last week backed up Administrative Law Judge Benjamin Schlesinger's decision to award bargaining orders to terminals in Norfolk, VA, Bridgeton, MO, Louisville, KY, and North Atlanta, GA. The case dates back to 1995, when the Teamsters lost representation elections at these locations.
According to the union, the NLRB awarded the bargaining orders because it found Overnite had committed unfair labor practices at those locations. Offenses allegedly included telling workers that unionization would be futile, threatening to close the terminal if employees voted in the union, threatening employees with stricter discipline and more onerous working conditions, and inviting them to quit if they wanted to work for a union company.
Much of the issue revolves around a wage increase, which the Teamsters say was held out as a "carrot" to entice workers to stay non-union. The NLRB has ordered Overnite to pay back wage increases withheld at several other locations for certain periods of time during 1996. Overnite says these wage increases were withheld while the Teamsters refused to bargain over Overnite's proposed productivity package and interim wage agreement.
Overnite says it will appeal the decision, which "is based solely on the same original findings made by an administrative law judge in 1998, which the company feels was flawed throughout," says Ira Rosenfeld, Overnite spokesman. "The company has been patiently waiting for some time for an opportunity to argue its position in the U.S. Court of Appeals."
The company says 100% of employees are ignoring the union's current picketing efforts at the Louisville and Norfolk terminals, 95% in North Atlanta, and 77% in Bridgeton.
Meanwhile, Overnite's Kansas City, KS, hub has petitioned the NLRB to decertify the Teamsters as their bargaining agent. This is the second decertification petition filed by this location. In the last several weeks, decertification petitions also were filed by Overnite terminals in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Tupelo, MS, and Grand Rapids, MI.
The Teamsters called the petition "bogus," and predict it will be dismissed by the labor board.
The Teamsters have been picketing at Overnite terminals since Oct. 24. Picket lines are currently in place at 140 of Overnite's 166 locations, according to the union.