The Militant (logo) 
Vol.64/No.8      February 28, 2000 
250 rally in Dayton to back Overnite strike  
DAYTON, Ohio--An enthusiastic march and rally here to boost support for the Overnite strike drew more than 250 unionists and supporters from around the region. Participants chanted, "What do we want? Contract!" and "Turn up the heat!" at the gate of the company's trucking terminal.

Workers locked out at the local newspaper and at AK Steel in Ohio joined in, as well as top officials of the AFL-CIO.

"We're standing strong," said David Jones about the striking Teamsters local in Indianapolis, Indiana, that also attended the rally. Workers have been on strike for 16 weeks to win union recognition and a decent contract.

Some 2,000 drivers, dockworkers, and maintenance workers across the United States struck Overnite at the end of October. The company is the sixth largest U.S. trucking company and the largest one that is unorganized. It is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Is this strike having an effect on the company? "Their stock was in the $60s at the start of this," Ted Carter said. Now, as the strikers vocally reminded the company vice-president for operations as he was driving out the gate, it has dropped to $38. With the help of Teamsters from other trucking companies in the area, they have kept picket lines up around the clock and "ambulatory pickets" Monday through Friday.

"We follow the [Overnite] trucks and a company car with a camera follows behind us," as they make deliveries and pick-ups in the area, a striker said describing the ambulatory pickets.

Dwight from the striking Dayton local told the rally, "You may get a little discouraged because this is taking a little bit longer, but thanks to all the support out there we can keep up the fight."

Pointing to important recent contributions of money and solidarity from the labor movement, union officials pledged their support at the rally, including AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, Teamsters International Secretary Treasurer Tom Keegel, Ohio AFL-CIO president William Burga, and International Union of Electrical Workers president Ed Fire.

Teamsters members from the Dayton Daily News received special attention at the rally. They have been locked out by the newspaper for eight months after a one-day walkout protesting stalled contract negotiations.

Steelworkers locked out by Armco/AK Steel for five months also traveled from Mansfield, Ohio, to spread the word about their fight. They showed enlarged photographs of armed security guards in riot gear who are used to protect scabs at the plant. Steelworkers passed out hundreds of leaflets advertising a March 25 support rally in Mansfield.

The Dayton rally took place while negotiators from the Teamsters and Overnite were meeting in Chicago. The company demanded the union accept a benefits package already implemented at their nonunion facilities. The union responded that they "have no interest in piecemeal bargaining. All negotiations should be part of an overall contract."

The union put out a newsletter outlining the intensification of the Teamsters' Overnite campaign, which the Indianapolis local made copies of and handed out to those crossing the picket lines. A striker said that one worker who took a flyer later drove out of the terminal saying, "Those people are crazy in there. I quit!"

Patti Thompson is a member of the International Association of Machinists. Betsey Stone, also a member of the IAM, contributed to this article.  
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