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USF Swedesboro Ad Irks Union Members

In the ad, USF said it was seeking replacement workers to fill a variety of jobs "due to the possibility of a strike" by its Teamsters-represented employees. The Teamsters’ contract is reportedly set to expire tomorrow.

The Inquirer quoted labor expert Adrienne Eaton, a professor and chair at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, as saying that while companies in the midst of tough labor negotiations often seek replacement workers, USF’s approach was unorthodox in its size and specificity. She also implied that the tactic could be seen as corporate bullying, particularly given the number of unemployed people available now to replace striking workers, should it come to that.

"It may be that, in the end, they won't use replacements," she said in the report. "But they're saying, 'We intend to keep operating.' "

John Laigaie, the president of Teamsters Local 628, which represents 275 truck drivers, mechanics, janitors, and other employees at the facility, called the advertisement “bad-faith bargaining” and an “obvious attempt to intimidate the members."
 
Kevin Hagan, a spokesman for USF said the advertisement was merely a "precaution" in the event of a strike and that the company’s first priority is to its customers.

Laigaie and Hagan told the Inquirer that their respective sides were hopeful they could resolve their issues at the bargaining table. Laigaie also noted that the union had "never once threatened a strike," though the members did vote unanimously Sunday to authorize a strike.

Of the many issues that remain on the table, Laigaie said the biggest is job security. USF, headquartered in Rosemont, Illinois, has recently been laying off workers at op-cos throughout the country, affecting hourly and management personnel, alike.

Hagan said the company was "committed to reaching an agreement" with the union, but Laigaie indicated that members had taken not of the ad and that “solidarity has magnified immensely” because of it.

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