After more than three months of picketing, the Teamsters union and less-than-truckload carrier Overnite Transportation are scheduled to resume contract talks next week.
Talks are scheduled for Feb. 9 and 10 in Chicago. The union says its unfair labor practice strike, which began Oct. 24, will continue during the negotiations.
According to the union, in mid-January Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service director Richard Barnes urged both sides to resume negotiations for the first time since they broke off last September. The FMCS offered its services to facilitate negotiations, but while the Teamsters accepted the offer, they say Overnite rejected it.
Neither side has indicated that they see a breakthrough as imminent. The Teamsters chided Overnite for not accepting mediation.
"One hundred and fifty-four negotiating sessions over more than four years should be evidence enough that Overnite has yet to grasp the art of negotiating a contract," said a Teamsters news release. "Reasonable people could come to an agreement in three days, if both parties demonstrated good faith at the beginning."
As for Overnite, spokesman Ira Rosenfeld has said that the company has made no concessions to bring the union back to the table. According to the Associated Press, Overnite wants the Teamsters to accept new medical and retirement benefits that took effect Jan. 1 for all company employees, including union members who are crossing picket lines. The union says it won't approve the new benefits package unless it's part of an overall contract that also covers wages and working conditions.