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UPS wants Clinton to intervene in strike

striker Latest developments: August 4, 1997
Web posted at: 2:55 p.m. EDT (1855 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With most brown United Parcel Service trucks idled by a nationwide Teamsters Union strike, the chief negotiator for the country's largest package shipper said Monday that UPS would press the Clinton administration to intervene.

David Murray said he was disappointed after President Clinton told reporters that while UPS is "very important" to the country, he would not be getting involved in the strike, which began at midnight -- a few hours after the collapse of contract negotiations in Washington.

CNN's interviews with leaders from both sides:

Dave Murray, Vice President Labor Relations/UPS
icon 4 min. 20 sec. VXtreme video
Ron Carey, Teamsters General President
icon 4 min. 49 sec. VXtreme video

UPS ships 80 percent of the nation's packages, approximately 12 million each day.

"I still think the parties ought to go back to the table," Clinton said. "I hope they'll go back to the table but at this time I don't think any further action by me is appropriate."

Murray told reporters he was disappointed in the White House decision. "We'd like to encourage the president to change his mind," he said during an afternoon news briefing in Washington.

"We do believe (the strike) is important enough to the economy that it does rise to the level of a Taft-Hartley injunction," he said.

The Taft-Hartley Act requires that a strike must imperil the national economy or the public health or safety before the president may step in.

UPS employee Randall Hayes on strike in Atlanta
icon 288 K/22 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
"They don't want to come to the reality..."

Meantime, UPS gave no indication that it would back down from its final offer to the Teamsters union, which represents 185,000 UPS employees, or nearly two-thirds of its U.S. work force.

The walkout by union drivers, loaders and package sorters began at 12:01 EDT Monday after a last-ditch effort to set a new five-year contract in Washington collapsed over differences on pay, benefits and job security.

No new negotiations have been scheduled.

Teamsters call strike a success

striker

UPS said an overwhelming number of Teamster members had joined the strike, leaving a skeleton crew of managers and non-union workers to staff what operations they could.

A company spokesman said a number of union members -- "in the low thousands" -- had decided to cross picket lines and said some entire facilities were operating normally.

The Independent Pilots Association, which represents the 2,000 pilots at UPS has vowed to honor the Teamsters picket line, although the company says it hopes to ship about 30 percent of its air deliveries, using 138 managers who have pilots' licenses.

Part-timer, pension deadlock

Negotiations are deadlocked primarily over two issues: The union's demand that UPS hire more full-time workers and fewer part-timers; and the company's demand to withdraw from a Teamster-run pension plan which covers companies other than UPS.

Instead of the current "multi-employer" pension plan, UPS prefers one that would be jointly overseen by the company and the union and cover only UPS employees. "UPS money spent for UPS employees only goes a much, much farther way," Murray said.

Sixty percent of UPS employees work part-time.

"The average part-time worker at UPS earns $11 an hour," said company spokeswoman Gina Ellrich. "Approximately 60,000 part-time workers at UPS earn more than $16,000 in wages annually," she told reporters in Washington.

"Over the past four years, more than 13,000 UPS part-time workers moved into full-time positions," she said. "In addition, another 8,000 full-time jobs were created."

However, striking part-timers said they would earn more money and have better benefits -- for the same work -- if they were made full-time employees.

 
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