An Overnite Transportation Co. driver was shot and critically wounded Wednesday morning in Memphis, Tenn.
The driver, William G. Wonder, 46, of Evansville, Ind., has been with Overnite for 19 years. He was taken to Memphis MedCenter in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the stomach. His condition was subsequently upgraded following surgery.
Memphis police reports indicate the shooting occurred shortly after 5 a.m. on Interstate 240 North, approximately 10 miles from the Overnite facility on East Brooks Rd. Wonder had just left the Memphis Service Center on a return trip to Evansville, Ind.
According to police reports, two shots were fired at the vehicle, one striking the hood and a second passing through the windshield and hitting Wonder in the stomach. He was able to pull his vehicle to a stop and used his cell phone to call for help.
Officials from Overnite believe the shooting was in connection with the labor protest by the teamsters. "This act of attempted murder and numerous other acts of violence against Overnite facilities and personnel across the nation, clearly show the frustration of the union and its sympathizers at their inability to significantly affect the Overnite system after six weeks of picketing," said Overnite President Leo Suggs.
The Teamster unfair labor practice (ULP) strike against Overnite has had a major impact on Overnite's freight operations around the country. The ULP strike came on the heels of a national unfair labor practice charge filed at the National Labor Relations Board based on a former Overnite operations manager's sworn affidavit that exposed a companywide, systematic pattern of federal law breaking.
"The right to picket and protest clearly is embedded in laws and innate freedoms in this nations," said Mark Goodwin, Overnite senior vice president and general counsel. "The right to harm another is clearly outside the law, and Overnite will do all possible to ensure justice is swiftly and thoroughly carried out."
In response to Overnite's accusations, Teamster Union President James P. Hoffa said, "There is no evidence that this act is connected to the unfair labor strike at Overnite, as the company alleges."
"The Teamsters condemn violence in any form. We extend our heartfelt concern to the injured driver and to his family and pray for his speedy recovery," said Hoffa.
Hoffa said the Teamsters will provide any support it can for authorities to apprehend and convict the perpetrator(s) of this act. To support law enforcement officials, Overnite has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the shooting.
In light of the incident in Memphis, Overnite is calling for the responsible members of the Teamsters union to immediately end the labor protest and withdraw the remaining pickets.
The Teamsters Union is calling on Overnite to "stop the violence, to stop the lawless behavior, and to begin adhering to the laws designed to protect America's working families."