Those trying to win union representation for truckers hauling containers at the nation's ports are claiming an important victory following the Federal Trade Commission's conclusion of an investigation into their organizing activities.
Eric Fink, one of the attorneys who has been representing the truckers during the investigation, says he received a phone message last week from the FTC that they have concluded their investigation and decided not to take any enforcement action.
"This decision represents an important legal victory for truckers in their struggle for recognition as employees with rights under the federal labor law," Fink says.
The investigation was sparked by a seven-day strike by truckers at the port of Baltimore in September. In November, the investigation spread
to the Southeast-based United Container Movers Assn., which was planning a meeting of port associations from all over the nation to discuss organizing issues. Several of its officers were served subpoenas ordering them to testify as the FTC tried to determine whether the truckers and the association were violating antitrust laws.
After lawyers for the Teamsters union, which is trying to unionize the port truckers, jumped in, at least one of the subpoenas was withdrawn, and others were postponed. Only one of the subpoenaed truckers actually was called to give testimony.
Ron Carver, Teamsters spokesman, said the union wasn't waiting on the FTC decision before it forged ahead. On March 21, the union had a meeting with port truckers and union officers from 20 different port locations around the country. The union is in the process of talking to trucking companies that already have Teamster contracts who are interested in opening divisions to handle port container hauling, Carver told RoadStar Radio News. "They're prepared to hire these drivers as employees, giving them full legal status to then sit down and negotiate a contract," he said.