WASHINGTON — While textile, apparel and retail shipments Wednesday appeared largely unimpeded by the first day of a Teamsters truckers’ strike, there is concern a prolonged walkout could slow deliveries.
“In the long term the strike may cause some delays in pickups and deliveries, because the nonunion carriers may be overloaded with new business,” said Robert Housworth, traffic manager, Dundee Mills, Griffin, Ga.
“The whole system could get backed up,” said a spokesman for Burlington Industries, Greensboro, N.C., which nevertheless uses outside truckers for only a small portion of its freight.
Contingency plans were cited by executives at Sara Lee Knit Products Co., Levi Strauss & Co. and Sears, Roebuck. Of the 12 carriers used by Levi Strauss to move goods, only two have been affected by the strike. Sears has switched to its non-Teamster carriers. “Initial reports show the impact on the trucker strike is minimal,” a Sears spokesman said.
While a spokesman for J.C. Penney noted the firm hasn’t had any freight delays yet, it has asked suppliers shipping via affected carriers to hold off until Friday morning so the retailer can make contingency plans.
The dispute involves 88,000 Teamsters at 22 companies involved in less-than-truckload shipping, but by Wednesday afternoon 18 of the companies had signed interim agreements, with the walkout zeroing in on four large carriers.