Scattered acts of violence continued here and across the country as the independent truckers' strike entered its second week, amid conflicting assessments today from government officials and striking drivers as to the impact of the protest on highway commerce.
With weekends generally slow for truck traffic, officials monitored the rigs' traditionally heavy Sunday night return to the interstates and truck stops, looking for any disruption in the flow of goods to major East Coast markets Monday.
Officials also braced for renewed violence if many truckers decide to ignore the strikers and roll. "We are on alert," said Pennsylvania state police spokesman Jim Cox. "A lot of industries expect their deliveries on Monday."
As of 10 p.m. today, truck traffic in Pennsylvania was about half of normal, according to the state police command post in Harrisburg.
Government officials said the strike was tapering off, as beefed-up police patrols helped to sharply diminish violence. In Washington, Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Blank said federal officials "see a clear decrease in overall violence over the last several nights."
In Medford, Ore., about 150 independent truckers voted to return to work. Lyle Stanley, vice president of the Western Truckers Association, told United Press International that the decision was motivated by truckers' financial concerns and a belief that the strike was "ill-timed."
But some spokesmen for the Independent Truckers Association, which called the strike to protest fuel-tax and truck-fee increases, vowed to stay away from the job. They predicted major food disruptions by midweek.
In Bedford, Pa., one of the ITA's strongest bases of support, striking drivers were organizing picket lines and police were mobilizing to prevent confrontations. In Bald Eagle, Pa., late Saturday, about 200 drivers voted to continue their strike.
"We have already decided that we are not going back to work," Grace Scheffer said for the group here. "It would be crazy to go out on strike for a week and just go back."
ITA President Michael Parkhurst told a group of truckers in Des Moines that he has been meeting with Reagan administration officials in Washington, and expected some results by midweek.
In Washington, another ITA spokesman said the group was negotiating with "some congressmen" on ways to end the strike, but declined to give details.
Despite the relative lull in traffic and incidents over the weekend, many states reported scattered shootings, rock-throwings, threats against drivers and vandalism against parked rigs. There have been more than 1,000 such attacks, in all but six states, since the strike began.
In the most serious incident of the weekend, driver Scott R. Poss, 27, of Menomonee Falls, Wis., was shot in the leg while leading a 15-truck convoy eastbound on the Ohio Turnpike near Toledo. Three other trucks were struck by bullets.
In Pennsylvania, where officials have recorded 387 violent strike-related acts, the nation's most, 15 incidents were counted over the weekend.