Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Bradley last week met with Teamsters picketing Overnite Transportation in New Jersey.
"I believe the union movement is critical to improving the standard of living for working families," Bradley told the more than 100 Teamsters picketing the Overnite temrinal in Moonachie, NJ. The half-hour visit was Bradley's first public appearance in his home state since a Dec. 8 fund-raiser.
Bradley proposes to triple penalties against employers who illegally fire a union organizer, and would allow workers to collect more than just back pay.
The Teamsters union has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate. The union refused to join the AFL-CIO in its endorsement of Vice President Al Gore. Both Gore and Bradley have positions attractive to unions, such as support for greater health care coverage and minimum wage increases. However, both also support free trade, which puts them at odds with organized labor.
The Teamsters have been engaged in an unfair labor practices action against Overnite since Oct. 24. According to published reports, the company has spent $1 million a week to protect personnel and add workers at strike hot spots.
The company has reported 11 shootings at employees, six injuries to employees and the public, and 302 trucks or trailers vandalized. As a result, Overnite has obtained 18 court injunctions that limit how near Teamsters can get to company facilities or vehicles.
Teamsters President James P. Hoffa says that while the union condemns violence, Overnite "bears a heavy responsibility" for the violence because it could end the strike at a moment's notice.