Scare Tactics

Scare Tactics

Copyright 2002, Traffic World Magazine

We are writing in response to the Jan. 7 article on Overnite Transportation Co. and its efforts to scare shippers into diverting freight with the specter of a disruption in service associated with the renegotiation of our collective bargaining agreement ("Aiming for the Top").

This appears to be a replay of Overnite's self-serving campaign in 1997 to incite customer fears under the rubric of responsible customer service. Much like this most recent threat, the 1997 Overnite campaign argued that potential service disruptions required that customers divert freight early or face a steep surcharge later. We would like to remind Traffic World readers that the 1997 Overnite campaign proved unnecessary: we negotiated and concluded a new collective bargaining agreement well in advance of the expiration date of the prior contract and without any disruption in service. We believe the current Overnite campaign will meet a similar fate.

Since 1994, our collective bargaining agreement has contained language establishing a joint labor-management industry development committee. Part of the responsibility of that committee is to meet on a periodic basis and to "identify problems, formulate plans to solve those problems and conduct joint activities designed to implement the plans." In short, we don't wait until two months before contract expiration to address issues of mutual concern.

The Teamsters union and MFCA have pledged to work professionally and diligently in reaching a fair and equitable contract. Both the union and the employers are well aware of the consequences of not reaching a timely agreement and so we both enter the next negotiation with open eyes and clear intentions. While there will be issues for negotiation, we recognize that in a highly competitive marketplace, maintaining customer confidence is the key to strong, viable companies and employee job security.

With hard work and proven leadership, we are confident of the outcome - much to the disappointment of Overnite.

Timothy P. Lynch

President and CEO

Motor Freight

Carriers Association

Phil Young

Director, Freight Division

International Brotherhood

of Teamsters