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Overnite Ordered To Reinstate Fired Workers

July 31, 2002

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The National Labor Relations Board has ordered Overnite Transportation to reinstate and pay lost wages plus interest to eight Overnite workers who were fired at the company's Memphis terminal.

The judge concluded that Overnite was guilty of engaging in unfair labor practices through its unlawful firing of eight Memphis workers, and violated the law by refusing to furnish the Teamsters with information it requested to defend the unlawfully fired workers. As a remedy, the Judge ordered Overnite to cease and desist its unlawful conduct and to reinstate the unlawfully fired workers, make them whole for lost wages and other benefits, plus interest. Overnite must also remove from its records any references to the suspensions and discharges of the unlawfully fired workers.
The ruling goes case-by-case through Overnite workers that strongly supported Teamster representation who were then unlawfully targeted and fired for transgressions fabricated by company officials.
For instance, 20-year Overnite worker and union steward Sam Powell was fired after warning a group of antiunion workers from South Carolina to be careful on the dock, which was dangerous given the presence of many forklifts. A worker had broken his arm on a forklift a week earlier. But Overnite officials fired Powell, saying he was threatening the workers from South Carolina. The judge noted previous cases show that antiunion employees who threatened and assaulted pro-union workers received no discipline from the company.
The ruling was largely based on a 1999 sworn affidavit by former Overnite supervisor Dale Watson. Watson testified that the company systematically tried to get Teamsters union supporters off of its payroll, targeting union supporters for "Mickey Mouse" infractions that other employees were allowed to get away with. (See “Ex-Overnite Boss Testifies About Targeting Union Supporters,” 10/27/99.)
The allegations surfaced at the same time the Teamsters union went on an unfair labor practices strike against the company it had been trying to organize for several years.

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