WASHINGTON-With the International Brotherhood of Teamsters strike entering its fourth week, tire dealers and retreaders were reporting only limited problems arising from the strike. But layoffs at retreading plants and disruption of trucking service indicate the situation could get much worse in certain areas if the strike doesn't end soon.
The strike against 22 trucking companies began April 6, when approximately 75,000 truck drivers, mechanics and dock workers walked off their jobs upon the expiration of the National Master Freight Contract.
As of April 28, trucking and Teamsters officials, bargaining under the auspices of federal mediators, were still at an impasse.
Under worst-scenario conditions, retreaders are uniquely vulnerable to trucking strikes. They are dependent on trucks not only for shipping raw materials and finished products, but also as their major customers.
Nevertheless, Treadco Inc. of Fort Smith, Ark., the nation's largest independent truck tire retreader, reported little disruption of its operations. Only Treadco's facility in Pine Bluff, Ark., has been affected, with its production down to about half, according to Treadco President J.J. Seiter.
But Marvin Bozarth, executive director of the American Retreaders' Association, said many other companies are starting to feel the strike's impact.
Mr. Bozarth noted the bankruptcy of Churchill Truck Lines Inc., a Missouri-based company whose demise was directly attributed to the Teamsters strike.
The effects of the strike were felt at the recent ARA convention in Louisville, Ky., Mr. Bozarth said. ``Yellow Freight (one of the struck trucking companies) is a member of our advisory council. But their representatives didn't come to Louisville, because the company has banned road trips for the duration of the strike.''
A representative of Consolidated Freightways canceled his scheduled Louisville meetings with Goodyear for similar reasons, Mr. Bozarth added.
Convention exhibitors also faced problems because of the strike, he said. One equipment exhibitor found its machinery stranded in transit to the ARA show and had to make an emergency rescue.
At least one trucking company's retreading subsidiary-Roadway Tire Co. in Columbus, Ohio-has laid off workers because of the strike.
Nine of 30 Roadway Tire employees have been laid off, and the others have had their hours cut, said President Peggy Fisher. ``But we're still buying casings and continuing operations,'' she said. ``We have to keep our people working.''