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Teamsters, workers sue FedEx over alleged reprisals against organizers

August 20, 1997

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ As the Teamsters wrapped up a strike against United Parcel Service, the union prepared to fight Federal Express Corp. in court over attempts to organize workers.

The union, joined by two current FedEx workers and one fired employee, has sued the nation’s No. 2 shipper, alleging FedEx violated federal law in trying to stifle the Teamsters’ efforts to organize workers nationwide.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled in June that FedEx was governed by the Railway Labor Act, which covers airlines and railroads and means FedEx workers who want to organize must do so nationally rather than locally. The United Auto Workers and the Teamsters had tried to unionize FedEx ground workers on a city-by-city basis.

The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Indianapolis alleges tractor-trailer driver Gerald W. Haddock of South Bend was fired Feb. 20 after 12 years with FedEx after allegedly backing a truck into a door at the company’s South Bend shipping station. The suit claims Haddock was targeted by a sham investigation because of his organizing efforts.

Driver Dan Proffitt of Martinsville, a 21-year FedEx employee, faces internal discipline for not surrendering his company identification while passing out leaflets to co-workers, the lawsuit said.

And Proffitt’s sister, dispatcher Leanna Cochran of Plainfield, has been intimidated from organizing co-workers because of the company’s actions against Haddock and Proffitt, the lawsuit alleges.

FedEx said the suit has no merit.

Steven Hoffman, a Washington-based attorney for the Teamsters, said he believed the lawsuit was the first nationwide brought by the union against FedEx over actions during the current organizing campaign.

He said the lawsuit was unrelated to the UPS strike settlement except that the Teamsters want workers on equal footing with the competing shippers.

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