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Union: UPS strike starts at midnight Sunday

UPS strike

More than 10,000 laid off as dispute looms

August 2, 1997
Web posted at: 3:58 p.m. EDT (1958 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More than 185,000 United Parcel Service employees will walk off the job and join picket lines starting at midnight Sunday if an agreement with the company isn't reached by then, their union said Saturday.

In a statement, the Teamsters Union said the strike will commence "if the company refuses to agree to a new contract that provides good full-time jobs with pensions and health coverage."

Talks aimed at reaching an agreement recessed Friday night. Negotiators have not said when they might resume.

A UPS spokesman told CNN Saturday that the company has already laid off thousands of employees because the potential strike has caused a dramatic decline in business.

On Friday, customers sent more than a million packages via other carriers that they normally would have sent with UPS, costing the nation's largest package carrier about $5 million in revenues, UPS spokesman Mark Dickens said. The company is estimating that it is losing about 8 percent of its daily business.

"If you lose packages, you lose jobs," Dickens said, estimating that nearly 10,000 workers were laid off Friday. The layoffs included part-time package handlers and full-time drivers, he said.

After 15 hours of intensive talks over two days overseen by federal mediators, frustrated union negotiators asked for a recess Friday night, saying there really wasn't much bargaining going on.

"I'm disappointed by the lack of progress," Teamsters President Ron Carey said.

After the talks recessed, the 50-member union bargaining committee met until midnight, going over the contract proposal item-by-item to see if there were any changes that might generate more fruitful discussions with the package delivery giant.

A revised proposal with new offers regarding full-time positions and wages was being prepared to deliver to UPS through federal mediators.

But union officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the company had failed to address their key issues of putting an end to subcontracting, creating more full-time jobs and increasing wages. Another sticking point was the company's request that it be allowed to withdraw from the Teamsters' multi-employer pension and health funds.

The Teamsters contract covering nearly two-thirds of the delivery giant's 302,000 U.S. employees expired at midnight Thursday. But talks continued until dawn Friday and then resumed in the afternoon for six hours.

UPS has offered to create 1,000 new full-time jobs and to guarantee opportunities for 10,000 part-timers to move into full-time positions -- offers the Teamsters have rejected.

Correspondent Louise Schiavone and Reuters contributed to this report.

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