Teamsters picketing Conrail Railroad's use of non-union workers at issue.


Members of Teamsters Local 557 are picketing a Conrail terminal in Baltimore because the railroad has awarded the work the union once did to a company the union says is employing non-union workers.

The pickets are employees of PTL Transportation Services Inc., a Conshohocken, Pa., company that had a contract with Conrail to load and unload trains at the railroad's Bayview intermodal terminal in Baltimore.

Last week, PTL employees at Bayview and 14 other Conrail terminals in the Northeast were ordered out on strike by the union to protest Conrail's decision to award the work to contractors employing non-Teamster workers.

About 27 Teamsters went on strike in Baltimore Saturday to protest Conrail's decision to give the work to Parsec, a Cincinnati-based company. Parsec officials could not be reached for comment.

The Conrail yard is an important link for cargo moving between the port of Baltimore and the Midwest. But Sam Azzarello, manager of traffic and intermodal services for the a Maryland Port Administration official said yesterday that the labor dispute has had little impact on cargo moving through the port.

Six pickets from Local 557 were at the terminal gate yesterday afternoon, but trucks continued to roll in and out without incident.

"We just want a job," said Robert Carr, one of the Baltimore pickets. "We have families to feed and bills to pay. We're not out to hurt anybody."

The picketing has ceased at three Conrail terminals -- Kearny, N.J., Harrisburg, Pa., and Worcester, Mass. -- where the new contractors reportedly agreed to hire back the Teamsters who formerly worked there.

PTL was a Conrail subsidiary when it was sold to PTL managers two years ago. PTL continued under contract to operate many of Conrail's intermodal terminals. But as those contracts expired, Conrail put them up for bid.

It was unclear yesterday whether there was a legal basis for the picketing.

Officials for the union were not available for comment.

Conrail is protesting the picketing to the National Labor Relations Board. Conrail maintains that if there is a dispute, it is not with Conrail and that picketing of the railroad constitutes an illegal secondary boycott.

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