WASHINGTON -- Yesterday marked the 27th month of the unfair labor
practice strike against Overnite Transportation Company, the
trucking subsidiary of Union Pacific Corporation, according to a
Teamster press release. The workers began the strike in Memphis on
October 24, 1999. The strike quickly spread across the country and
is the longest freight strike in history. Strike activity continues
across the country. Here is an update of recent events:
BAD FAITH BARGAINING CHARGE: In August 2001, the Teamster filed a national unfair labor practice charge against Overnite for bad faith bargaining. After more than 200 fruitless contract-negotiating sessions, the Teamsters are hopeful the NLRB will soon issue a complaint against Overnite for its refusal to bargain in good faith.
No contract negotiations have taken place since March 2001. The national charge noted that whether it is on the loading docks and break rooms of terminals across the country where threats and promises are delivered, or whether the source of the conduct is the overblown rhetoric and smarmy blithering of John Raudabaugh, Overnite's chief contract negotiator, delivered in now countless and always meaningless bargaining sessions, Overnite's violations continue. Simply stated -- Overnite's unlawful conduct away from the table and at the table are one in the same.
ILLEGALLY WITHHELD WAGES: The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will soon issue a decision regarding the wages Overnite unlawfully withheld at Teamster represented terminals and the first four of eleven bargaining order terminals. The Fourth Circuit had already ruled that there is no question that Overnite is guilty of a litany of serious and pervasive misconduct and violations of federal law and ordered Overnite to recognize the four bargaining order terminals and compensation the workers for the unlawfully withheld wages. A month later, the court mysteriously vacated its decision and entertained oral arguments in September 2001.
TEST OF CERTIFICATION: On January 25, 2002, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Overnite's appeal of the certification of four terminals, Detroit (Romulus), MI, Buffalo (Tonawanda), NY, and Bowling Green and Lexington, KY, that voted for Teamster representation. Overnite has refused to recognize the terminals and to allow them at the negotiating table.
For example, workers at Overnite's Detroit terminal won their election with 63 percent of the vote on March 15, 1995. Overnite challenged the results of the election. On September 8, 1999, after a lengthy appeals process, the NLRB certified the Detroit workers 1995 election victory for Teamster representation. Nonetheless, Overnite still refused to allow the Detroit terminal to participate in contract negotiations. The NLRB General Counsel issued a Summary Judgment. Overnite appealed to the full NLRB. On March 8, 2001, the full NLRB granted Summary Judgment against Overnite. Overnite appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Court of Appeals is finally hearing the case will issue a decision within the year. Therefore, the Detroit workers, who voted overwhelmingly for Teamster representation, will have their certification delayed for more than seven years because of Overnite's tactics to stall the process. Overnite's ``appeals scheme'' to deny its workers' basic bargaining rights is well documented. For example, workers at Overnite's Bedford Park terminal in Chicago won their right to engage in collective bargaining in 1982 -- twenty years ago -- and are still without a contract because Overnite refuses to bargain in good faith.
BARGAINING ORDERS: In August 2001, the NLRB ordered Overnite to bargain with Teamsters at Dayton and Richfield, OH, Nitro and Parkersburg, WV, Nashville, TN, Rockford, IL, and Bensalem, PA, bringing Teamster representation to 36 Overnite terminals nationwide. Overnite appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. No date has been set yet for oral arguments.
OVERNITE MUST REPUDIATE ITS UNLAWFUL CONDUCT: In December 2001, the NLRB ordered Overnite to repudiate its unlawful conduct and to post a notice at all its terminals promising its workers the company would stop violating their federally protected rights.
WORST LABOR SCOFFLAW IN USA: Overnite Transportation Company has had more than 1,000 unfair labor practice charges filed against it since the workers began organizing for Teamster representation in 1994. With more unfair labor practice charges and complaints filed against it per employee, Overnite has earned the reprehensible reputation as the worst labor scofflaw in the United States of America.
BRIBERY DECISION AGAINST OVERNITE: The NLRB unanimously affirmed an April 2001 decision finding that Overnite engaged in soliciting and bribing employees to circulate petitions to decertify the Teamsters. Additionally, the NLRB found that Overnite violated federal law by threatening an employee with disciplinary action if he refused to cross a picket line.
$1 BILLION SHAREHOLDER LAWSUIT: In June, 2001, the shareholders of Union Pacific sued Leo Suggs and other executives of Union Pacific and Overnite, and Union Pacific's Board of Directors for their 'Billion Dollar Blunder'; a systematic anti-labor campaign at Overnite that caused a dramatic $1 billion dollars loss in shareholder value. The lawsuit claims that the executives pursued an unlawful conspiracy to deny the workers their federally protected rights, reducing the value of Overnite from its $1.2 billion purchase price to little more than $300 million, a $900 million loss in shareholder value, and costing the shareholders an additional $100 million dollars in pursuit of its unlawful campaign. On February 5, 2002, the court will hear a procedural motion in Memphis, Tennessee.
DECERTIFICATION ATTEMPTS: At the sixteen terminals listed below, the NLRB threw out bogus decertification attempts because of Overnite's ``pervasive and
egregious'' unfair labor practices.
Grand Rapids, MI
Kansas City, KS
St. Louis, MO
REPRESENTATION: The Teamsters represent approximately 45 percent of Overnite's drivers and dockworkers at 36 Overnite terminals across the county, including five of Overnite's seven largest service centers.