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Teamsters, UPS hold firm as strike begins
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Web posted at: 10:52 a.m. EDT (1452 GMT)
(CNN) -- The opening day of a strike against United Parcel Service saw the company and the Teamsters Union blaming each other for the walkout, with each side showing no signs of compromise on the issue of part-time workers.
Drivers, package-sorters and loaders shut down UPS facilities across the country on Monday just hours after talks collapsed in a dispute over pay, benefits and job security.
The midnight walkout by more than 185,000 Teamsters disrupted deliveries of millions of packages across the nation. The Independent Pilots Association said its 2,000 UPS pilots would refuse to work.
Teamsters negotiators rejected a UPS contract offer late Sunday night but workers, themselves, did not vote on the offer.
White House won't intervene
White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Monday he saw "no possibility" of President Clinton intervening to stop the strike.
"I see no possibility of presidential action on that matter," McCurry told reporters, saying the strike was not likely to meet the standard for presidential action under the Taft-Hartley Act of imperiling the national health or safety.
Two sides 'debate' in separate CNN interviews
During separate live interviews on CNN on Monday morning, both Teamsters President Ron Carey and UPS Chief Negotiator David Murray defended their positions.
"We don't believe that the time was right for a strike with us having a good contract offer on the table," Murray said. "We believe our people should have the opportunity through the democratic processes within the Teamsters Union to vote on that contract. If (the workers) then turn it down, that's when the union should look to use their economic weapons like strikes."
Carey said UPS "had an opportunity to talk about a very comprehensive proposal that we gave them on Saturday .... (but) ...they weren't interested."
"They want to expand the use of part-time workers into other classifications (and) continue to subcontract work," Carey said. "What we're really talking about is good, decent, full-time jobs, not shifting to low wage, throw-away, disposable jobs or subcontracting the work out. That's wrong."
The union wants limits on subcontracting and more full-time jobs. Nearly two-thirds of the Teamsters at UPS are part-timers.
Part-time UPS jobs "are great jobs," that include benefits insisted Murray. "We have part-timers that make over $20 an hour and 60,000 of them made more than $16,000 last year."
Carey, however, said Murray was exaggerating the number of part-time union members making $20 an hour. "That's not quite accurate," he said.
"You could put those people (earning that figure) on the head of a pin," Carey said. "He's talking about a minuscule amount, folks who have been there a very long time."
Carey said the union would "do whatever it takes" to win its demands.
UPS: Critical supplies will still be delivered
UPS said the company would do all it could to ensure that hospital supplies, blood supplies and packages containing other critical supplies reached their destinations.
The rival Federal Express Corp. had already reported a sharp increase in business in recent days, and imposed limits including cutting drop-off times by two hours, suspending money-back guarantees and declining new regular accounts.
The U.S. Postal Service announced temporary measures today, including limiting customers to four parcels a visit. Postmaster General Marvin Runyon said "an extraordinary increase in volume" was expected.
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