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Talks Continue as Teamsters Strike Looms

May 31, 1999|Times Wire Services

Auto makers are making contingency plans as the Teamsters, the nation's second-largest union, head toward a Tuesday morning deadline and possible strike against trucking companies that haul 90% of autos to dealers. Teamsters President James P. Hoffa is promising to deliver a three-year national contract with higher wages, pension benefits and better job security for about 12,200 members who haul cars between factories, ports, auctions and rail yards. Negotiations lasted through the weekend and are likely to continue tonight. The two sides made some progress on equipment and safety matters, but there were still "substantial differences on the major issues," said Steve Duchesne of the National Automobile Transporters Assn., which is made up of 17 companies. Industrywide, most auto makers had an "almost perfect" 61 days of inventory on their dealer lots on May 1, said Mike Luckey, whose Luckey Consulting Group tracks sales. Still, some auto makers plan to temporarily switch business to nonunion carriers and ask their dealers to consider using their own trucks and drivers.

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