Greyhound Files Suit Against Striking Union
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Greyhound Lines filed a $30 million civil lawsuit today against union officers representing striking drivers, alleging that violence in the five- week-old strike was an attempt to ″disrupt interstate travel by criminal means.″
In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla., Greyhound claimed unlawful actions by Amalgamated Transit Union and 20 union officers have cost it at least $10 million. The suit seeks actual damages plus court and attorney fees and punitive damages under Florida law.
″They’ll grab at any straw to avoid returning to the bargaining table,″ Nick Nichols, a spokesman for the Amalgamated Council of Greyound Local Unions, said of the company’s suit.
″We think it’s just a desperate act on the part of a company to justify an unjustifiable position, and that’s their refusal to bargain in good faith,″ Nichols said. ″They’re putting the entire bargaining process in the hands of common criminals.″
Greyhound has said it will not return to the bargaining table until a week goes by without any acts of violence.
The Greyhound suit said violent acts pass ″far beyond the bounds of legitimate conduct sanctioned by the law and represent clear efforts to disrupt interstate travel by criminal means.″
Greyhound Vice President Anthony P. Lannie, who announced the suit here, said several specific offenses showed a pattern of racketeering activity, including extortion, attempted murder, obstruction of justice, interference with interstate commerce and arson.
Lannie said the company had no immediate plans to resume negotiations.
″We’re still waiting for a seven-day cease-fire,″ Lannie said, noting that an Arrow Trailways bus was struck by two bullets near Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday night. No one was injured on the bus, which is not owned by Greyhound but was scheduled to pick up Greyhound passengers in Dallas, Lannie said.
The suit also seeks to have the court appoint receivers to head two Greyhound local unions - Local 1600 in Atlanta and Local 1493 in Charlotte, N.C. Both unions conduct business out of Jacksonville, Fla.
Talks between the company and the union have been stalled since March 18. There have been about 30 shootings and more than 100 bomb threats, the company said. The union contends there have been more than 60 incidents of violence against striking drivers. One striker was crushed to death by a bus in Redding, Calif., on March 3.
About 6,300 Greyhound drivers and 3,000 maintenance and other workers walked out March 2 over wages and job security. Greyhound, the nation’s only nationwide bus system, has been operating on a reduced schedule with replacement drivers it hired and union members who crossed the picket line.