10/3/08

Teamster strike big triggers picket-line violence

Related: "Teamsters expand strike to CA, NV"
More strike stories: here

Militant union picks an expanding fight

A Teamster business agent was hit today by a truck driven by a replacement worker as she was picketing legally in support of striking Oak Harbor Freight Lines' trucking employees in Pasco. Police have charged the driver with assault.

Oak Harbor employees in the Northwest walked off the job Sept. 22 in response to hostile efforts by company representatives to bully and intimidate workers, which are unfair labor practices in violation of federal law. The Teamsters are picketing Oak Harbor Freight Lines' trucks in California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Eydie Dean, a business agent for Local 117 in Tukwila, was walking the picket line when a truck driven by a replacement worker pulled into the Oak Harbor Freight facility in Pasco.

"I was standing on the picket line with my sign way up high and the driver could see it," Dean said. "He pulled forward and I said stop and he just laughed and kept going, pushing me about three feet."

A security guard then came out and told the driver that Dean and other picketers had a right to be on the property, Dean added. The police were called and the driver was cited with simple assault, according to a police report filed by the Pasco Police Department.

Dean said she was unhurt, but shaken, saying that nothing like this has ever happened to her before on a picket line. Dean left the picket line to go to a private luncheon being held today for Gov. Christine Gregoire, where she planned to let the governor know what had happened.

This is just the latest incident of unsafe driving practices by replacement drivers.

"Our guys have actually videotaped safety violations and the safety issues are immense," said Tom Strickland, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 81 in Portland, Oregon. "You see people driving with the back doors open, swerving into traffic, blocking traffic."

In Washington State, there have been incidents where replacement drivers have been seen driving while talking on their cell phones; overweight violations; and several incidents of drivers damaging property, said Rick Hicks, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 174 in Tukwila.

"We are concerned that the public's safety is at risk," Hicks said.

Oak Harbor Freight Lines, one of the largest trucking companies on the West Coast, provide time sensitive delivery services to some of the largest companies in the country including The Gap, Safeway, JC Penney, Sylvania, Graybar Electric, HD Waterworks, Honda, McKesson, Cardinal Health, Tec Equipment, Siemens, Georgia Pacific, Owens & Minor, GM & Chrysler Parts, Urban Outfitters and Maytag.

(marketwatch.com)

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