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Management Negotiator Says Owners Made Major Concessions To Teamsters

August 20, 1985

DETROIT (AP) _ The chief bargainer for the nation’s car-hauling companies says his industry made substantial concessions to Teamsters union demands in a settlement that ended a three-week nationwide strike by 20,000 drivers.

″We have bent to their demands,″ Ian Hunter, executive director of the National Automobile Transporters’ labor division, said Monday at a news conference.

Hunter refused to discuss most contract details, but he did say truck drivers will receive a 15 percent increase in salary and benefits. He also indicated that the National Automobile Transporters withdrew a proposal to give car haulers only half-compensation on round trips.

While saying he was ″cautiously optimistic″ the union’s rank-and-file would ratify the tentative pact, he warned of dire consequences for the industry if it fails.

″Let’s face it, the railroads have gained market penetration in the last two years and they will keep on gaining,″ Hunter said. ″... There will be permanent damage if this is not approved.″

Hunter’s comments came as drivers nationwide hauled thousands of new cars from automobile plants to dealers for the first time in more than three weeks.

The tentative settlement was approved by more than 90 union officials last week. Ballots are scheduled to be mailed Thursday to unionized car haulers, who have until Sept. 12 to consider the new pact.

Pete Karagozian, president of Teamsters Local 299 in Detroit, the largest car-hauling local in the country, has sharply criticized the contract agreement.

Karagozian, who said he was the only Teamsters local official who refused to support the tentative pact, predicted it would be rejected by members.

Hunter said car haulers returned to work peacefully Monday, but he acknowledged that a dispute at the Port of Providence, R.I., where more than 10,000 cars were awaiting shipment, had led to continued picketing there.

About three dozen members of Teamsters Local 251 blocked an entrance to the port Monday morning after they were told that Nissan Co. dealers would try to use non-union drivers to transport some of the cars.

By about 2 p.m., they had agreed to allow the movement of all non-Nissan vehicles and Nissan cars headed for dealers located more than 75 miles from Providence.

″Arrangements have been made to eliminate (the pickets),″ Hunter said.

Meanwhile, new car dealers reported that autos were slowly rolling into showrooms.

″Business has started to pick up,″ said Gerry Burke, business manager at George Matick Chevrolet in Detroit.

″The cars are going to be here and people will be able to see them and feel them,″ Burke said. ″They don’t want to buy it if they can’t see it, and we didn’t have a lot of cars in stock during the strike.″

In southwestern Michigan, one dealer said he was still without cars, ″but 17 are on the way.″

″The mood of customers and my salesmen has definitely improved,″ said Chris Zeppenfeld, sales manager at Jack Keller Ford in Grand Rapids. ″The strike hurt us. We ran out of trucks.″

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