Overnite dispute comes to Canada

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MONTREAL, Que. – A union dispute that has gripped Overnite Transportation terminals in the U.S. came north at 8 a.m. on April 20, as Teamsters Canada’s Freight Division took up the cause at eight Canadian terminals.

Information pickets were mounted by Teamsters in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Ont., Windsor, Ont., Toronto, and Montreal.

“We’re keeping less than 10 people here each day to avoid any injunctions. We’re not content with the offers. We don’t think there’s been negotiation in good faith,” said Yves Cote, a Teamster member and picketer at the Dorval-area terminal in suburban Montreal.

Cote said there was a bigger presence of picketers at the Drummondville terminal an hour or so outside Montreal, but the Dorval terminal was a “symbolic gesture of solidarity.”

The Teamsters Canada Freight Division has informed the carrier’s customers that the company has been “strike bound” for the past six months, and that they could face disrupted service. However, Overnite Transportation representatives said that the dispute was causing little real trouble in the U.S.

“We’re experiencing no problems whatsoever. We have only 654 picketers out out of 13,000 employees,” said Ira Rosenfeld, director of corporate communications with Overnite Transportation.

“This is having a minimal effect on our operations. In fact, our on-time performance is at 98 per cent, and for the first time in its history the company is guaranteeing delivery,” he says. Overnite Transportation received calls that there was going to be a disturbance in Vancouver, but nothing really happened, said Rosenfeld.

Also, the Teamsters do not represent workers at the Canadian terminals.

“This dispute is all about Overnite’s violation of labor laws,” says Teamsters spokesman David Cameron. Teamsters charges that Overnite has fired workers because they support the union.

Teamsters represent 45 per cent of U.S. drivers and dock workers – 3,651 employees, according to the union.n

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