The first negotiations between the Teamsters and Overnite Transportation since picketing of the company started 14 weeks ago wrapped up yesterday in Chicago with little fanfare.
The two-day session was the 155th and 156th meeting between the two sides in the past several years as the union has tried to gain wider representation of the company's truckers and dock workers.
According to a Teamsters statement, "Contract negotiations began with an exchange of information and details questions from the Teamsters regarding proposed benefit changes. They are part of Overnite's 2000 Benefit Package already instituted at the unrepresented Overnite terminals."
Overnite wants the Teamsters to agree to the benefit changes before tackling the thorny issues that have been raised in overall contract talks. However, the union has told the company they have no interest in piecemeal bargaining and that all negotiations should be part of an overall contract.
Despite this, Overnite spokesman Ira Rosenfeld has been quoted as saying that "Overnite is hopeful that the Teamsters will in fact agree to the benefits package" offered.
Pickets of Overnite terminals began in Memphis Oct. 24 and spread to other locations over alleged unfair labor practices by Overnite, including charges the company targeted union supporters for disciplinary actions. Overnite has denied the charge.
The next round of talks is tentatively scheduled for March 7.