At press time, truck drivers who are members of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston were still picketing around-the-clock at NorthEast Electrical Distributors, Canton, Mass., after being locked out by the company on May 31. According to NorthEast Electrical Distributors management, the company locked out the drivers rather than allow its customer service to suffer.

“On May 31, when the teamsters representative twice threatened at the bargaining table to take our unionized drivers out on a strike, we took decisive action to meet the needs of our customers,” the company said in a written statement. “Rather than allow our customers to suffer because of missed or delayed deliveries, we decided to lock out the drivers, so we, and not the union, would be in control.”

The union said Sonepar's NorthEast Electrical Distributors is using the lockout to intimidate 95 warehouse workers who were getting ready to vote on whether to unionize. The union has blocked the election by warehouse workers until an investigation by the Labor Relations Board is completed.

“We were in negotiations with the company and we had only talked about boilerplate language,” said Ritchie Reardon, president, Local 25. “We hadn't even discussed anything monetary, and the company took the position to lock the drivers out. We figure it's because we also had an organizing drive going on with people inside the warehouse and they were afraid we would be successful in that organizing drive.”

Carl Brand, president of Sonepar's NorthEast Electrical Distributors, said the union's claim is untrue and that the company would have locked out the truck drivers regardless of the situation with the warehouse workers. The Labor Relations Board is looking into charges filed by the Union against the company.