WASHINGTON — Three more trucking companies Tuesday asked the Teamsters Union for interim agreements that would permit them to return to the highways pending an overall settlement of the week-old strike.
If approved, the agreements would permit the companies' 4,350 drivers and dock workers to join Teamsters members of two other carriers who had been exempted from the strike in earlier, separate agreements with the union.
Trucking Management Inc., which represents the struck firms, accused the union Tuesday of stringing out the interim agreements for the sake of headlines.
The latest companies that requested interim agreements are TNT Holland Motor Express Inc. of Holland, Mich., the sixth-largest carrier, with 2,500 Teamster members; TNT Red Star of Newark, N.J., the eighth-largest, with 1,500, and Sea-Land Service of Elizabeth, N.J., with 350 members.
"Every day it becomes clearer that TMI represents only the interest of the four companies that dominate the industry," Teamsters President Ron Carey said. "They don't represent the interest of the smaller companies or the communities we serve."
About 70,000 Teamsters drivers and dockworkers struck the 22 companies April 6 over the increased use of trains and part-time workers. Since then, two carriers--Preston Trucking and Carolina Freight Carriers--have reached interim agreements.
A third company, Churchill Truck Lines Inc. of Chillicothe, Mo., went out of business Monday, saying strikers' demands would make it impossible to turn a profit.
TMI had released the regional carriers last week to negotiate interim agreements that would be replaced when a national settlement was reached.
"We recognized that many of the companies could not survive a strike, and so the only decent thing to do was allow the companies to keep operating and their workers to keep earning their living," TMI President Arthur H. Bunte Jr. said in a statement Tuesday.
"Instead of doing the honorable thing and immediately granting those interim agreements so their own members could get back to work, the Teamsters have adopted the deplorable strategy of stringing out these agreements. . . .