As the Teamsters prepare to meet with Overnite Transportation officials in Chicago today and tomorrow, the union says it will use an infusion of $500,000 from the AFL-CIO to step up its strike efforts against the less-than-truckload carrier.
The AFL-CIO yesterday announced that in addition to the $100,000 it contributed in November to the union's strike fund, it is adding another $500,000. Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said that in addition to paying for strike benefits, the money will be used to turn up the heat in "Phase 2" of the 16-week-old unfair labor practices strike.
According to Hoffa, this Phase 2 will:
· Intensify and expand strike line activity, especially the ambulatory picket lines, where picketers follow Overnite trucks and picket at delivery locations.
· Increase communications to Overnite customers.
· Request government hearings into Overnite's unlawful activities.
· Launch an information campaign to the board of directors and shareholders of Union Pacific, Overnite's parent company.
· Begin a public relations campaign on TV, radio, and in newspapers to educate the public about Overnite's illegal activities.
· Develop a national legal strategy.
This is not the first time the AFL-CIO has helped in this strike, the union's president, John Sweeney, said during a press conference yesterday at Teamsters headquarters. "Through the AFL-CIO affiliated unions and central labor councils around the country, we've given assistance on picket lines in 60 cities. We've held coordinated demonstrations, rallies and informational events in more than 20 cities. We've joined the Teamsters in asking Overnite customers to tell the company to respect the decision of its employees to join a union. The entire labor movement is committed to escalating our support and standing with Overnite employees for as long as it takes."
According to the Teamsters, the union represents about 3,700 of Overnite's 8,200 drivers and dock workers. About 900 of those are on the picket lines, another 900 are working temporary jobs at other companies while on strike, and the remainder are too intimidated or financially unable to refuse to report to work, Hoffa says.