Danny Pyles was snoozing contentedly in his rig in the parking lot of the truck stop here when the guerillas attacked.
A blast from a sniper's shotgun shattered the windshield of Pyles' big Peterbilt. Within seconds, a dozen burly men ran up and dragged Pyles out of the bunk at the back of the cab. They beat him with fists and tire irons and then, as he lay bleeding on the pavement, they smashed the lights and punctured the tires of his truck.
"They kicked the little guy around the parking lot like a soccer ball," a witness later told police. "Then, when they pulled out, they almost ran over him with their pickup."
The police have brought no charges yet in the trashing of Danny Pyles and his truck, but truckers here in the steel country south of Pittsburgh say they know who is responsible: militant members of the Fraternal Association of Steel Haulers (universally known as FASH), who are carrying on a wildcat strike against the Teamsters union and steel and trucking companies.
Since, the FASH members, mos t of whom belong to the Teamsters, started their strike five weeks ago prolice in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennyslvania have recorded more than 400 incidents of vandalism or violence. Truckers who refused to honor the strike have been hospitalized after encounters with the FASH fighters.
"I didn't know how bad it was 'til I saw Danny at the hospittal that morning," said Roland Shaw, a traffic manager for George Transfer Co., the Baltimore-based firm for which Pyles drives. "When I saw Danny, I realized that we got a PLO operating right here in Pennsylvania."
Shaw's metaphor is exaggerated, but there is a degree of truth in the comparison. Like the Palestine Liberation Organization Middle East terrorists, the dissident steel haulers have
See STRIKE, A6, COL. 4
STRIKE, FROM A1
RESORTED TO VIOLENCE TO GET BACK TO THEIR ADVERSARIES AND TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THEIR COMPLAINTS. AND LIKE THE PALESTINIANS, THE STRIKING DRIVERS HAVE A BROAD RANGE OF COMPLAINTS AGAINST A BROAD RANGE OF ADVERSARIES:
THEY ARE ANGRY AT NATIONAL TEAMSTER LEADERS FOR FAILING TO LET STEEL HAULERS VOTE ON A SEPARATE CONTRACT DEALING SPECIFICALLY WITH STEEL SHIPMENTS.
THEY ARE ANGRY AT LOCAL TEAMSTER OFFICIALS FOR FAILING TO ENFORCE THE CONTRACT THEY HAVE.
THEY ARE ANGRY AT STEELMAKERS AND TRUCKING FIRMS FOR REFUSING TO BARGAIN WITH ANY TRUCKERS' UNION OTHER THAN THE TEAMSTERS.
THEY ARE ANGRY AT THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD FOR MAKING IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO DECERTIFY THE TEAMSTERS AS THEIR UNION.
THEY ARE ANGRY AT VARIOUS GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OVER THE 55 MILE AN HOUR SPEED LIMIT AND OTHER REGULATIONS.
AND THE DISSIDENT TRUCKERS ARE FRUSTRATED BECAUSE OF THEIR WEIRD LEGAL SITUATION. UNDER A FEDERAL COURT RULING, STEEL HAULERS ARE UNION MEMBERS FOR PURPOSES OF TEAMSTER MEMBERSHIP BUT "BUSINESSMEN" FOR PURPOSES OF THEIR MEMBERSHIP IN FASH.
Thus, a steel hauler who strikes and pickets a trucking firm is acting egally if he does it as a Teamster but illegally if he does it as a FASH member.
A federal judge enjoined the 1970 strike, ruling that FASH was an association of businessmen rather than a union of workers. Thus FASH did not enjoy labor's exemption form antitrust laws, and its "strike" was held to be an illegal boycott.
When Hill and his followers started this year's strike on Nov. 11, U.S. Steel and six other big steelmakers went to court in Pittsburgh to get a new injunction. But then U.S. Steel made a legal blunder.
A U.S. Steel lawyer in Alabama reacted to the FASH strike by filing an "unfair labor practice" complaint against FASH-an action that required the company to designate FASH as a "labor organization." In essence, the U.S. Steel lawyer in Alabama conceded the key point the U.S. Steel lawyers were arguing in court in Pittsburgh.
The Alabama complaint was quickly rescinded-but not before FASH's lawyers presented it to the court in Pittsburgh. U.S. Steel's Pittsburgh lawyers now say that the complaint was an "oversight," and that the lawyer who filed it has been "reasigned."
Even if the court issues a new injunction against the dissident steel haulers, their strike is likely to go on. Since the FASH members are willing to risk criminal penalties for their guerrilla tactics, it weems doubtful that they would be deterred from striking by the threat of a civil contempt citation.
The determination of the dissidents was clear last Thursday when a big Teamster local in Monroeville, just outside Pittsburgh, called a rally to encourage its members to keep on driving. About 500 FASH members showed up, and took over the meeting.
The assemblage of rotund, muscular truck drivers looked like a convention of professional wrestlers-except these grapplers were fighting mad. They roared out their distate for the Teamsters and cast a loud, unanimous vote to continue the strike.*tAs with most such disputes, the effect of it all is a matter of dispute. Hill claims that 75 percent of the nation's 30,000 steel truck drivers are honoring the strike; steelmakers say traffic is down only about 10 percent because most drivers, both Teamster and nonunion, are working.
That is the reason for the violence. "These guys shouldn't be driving," says Jimmy Schmidt, a cheery FASH partisan from Emsworth, Pa. "As long as they're driving, our strike won't have effect. t long as they're driving, our strike won't have effect. That's why some guys get a little excited when they run into somebody who doesn't go along with the strike."
And so every day police files grow thicker with reports of sniper fire hiting moving trucks along the interstate highways, of slashed tires and smashed windshields and slit air lines (the hoses that carry pressure to the air brakes).
"Sonner or later, they're going to kill some inonocent people," says Shaw, the George Transfer traffic manager.
"You can't drive past a big truck at 55 mph and shoot out his windshield and his tires and expect it to pull over smoothly and come to a nice gentle stop. They're going to shoot one of these guys pretty soon, and that truck's going to cross the median and hit some cars. They're going to kill a lot of innocent people."