Union workers striking Summit Logistics' Tracy, Calif., warehouse have spent the past week telling horror stories about Summit truck drivers foregoing sleep and breaks to meet delivery standards and to make a living wage.
According to published reports, Teamsters Local 439 officials released data last week aiming to back up those claims. From January 1997 through September 2000, California Highway Patrol officers issued more citations to drivers of Safeway tractor-trailers than to drivers for other grocery chains, according to figures the union said it obtained from the CHP.
Union members said they used owner registrations to determine the grocery chain behind the trucks. Safeway brand trucks were registered to Summit Logistics of Tracy.
Summit President Martin Street said the data was skewed.
"In monthly safety meetings with drivers, [safety] was never an issue that was raised," he said. "It's just a convenience during a period of negotiations."
Street cited recent Department of Transportation statistics showing that Summit drivers were in fewer accidents than Albertson's, a major grocery competitor.
CHP officials said they couldn't confirm the union's figures and were still reviewing raw data.
Duane Wilson, a driver for Safeway stores of Northern California, recently voiced his opinion to Truckinginfo.com via email.
"Our equipment is underserviced, poorly inspected and excessive in age," Wilson said. "We are demanded to run up to the statutory limit of 60 hours, constantly, and the company is forever coming up with schemes to require drivers to log-off during their shifts to amass more work time, in essence a 60-plus hour work week.
"We are not paid overtime and after a 16-plus hour day, must commute back to our homes, bathe, eat and tend to buisiness of our lives outside Safeway and return in the 8 hours of off duty,” Wilson added. “We are fatigued both physically and mentally, and the safety record illustrates this.”
Union-urged boycotts appear to be having an effect on the rest of the company. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Safeway’s Pleasanton, Calif., location said Tuesday it will lay off 200 clerks.
David Bowlby, a Safeway spokesman, said the layoffs are a temporary measure affecting part-time employees representing 1 percent of the company's total regional workforce of 20,000.