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Tempers flare on UPS picket lines

UPS Strike graphic

No talks scheduled on 2nd day of nationwide strike

August 5, 1997
Web posted at: 12:43 p.m. EDT (1643 GMT)

Latest developments:

(CNN) -- On the second day of a strike keeping most of United Parcel Service's familiar brown trucks at a standstill, tempers flared on an Atlanta picket line Tuesday while the federal mediator present when talks collapsed said he hoped to be "meeting with both sides in the foreseeable future."

A L S O :

Tips for consumers during UPS strike

"I am going to be in touch with (UPS and the Teamsters union) this morning as I was (Monday) morning," John Calhoun Wells told CNN in a live interview Tuesday. "We'll just have to see where it goes."

No new talks were scheduled following a Teamsters walkout during contract talks Sunday night. About 185,000 union members, representing about two-thirds of the UPS work force, went on strike early Monday.

Federal Mediator John Calhoun Wells
231K/22 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

The two sides were unable to reach compromises on pay, pensions and the use of part-time employees.

"These are outstanding negotiators," Wells said, referring to Teamsters President Ron Carey and UPS Vice President of Labor Relations David Murray.

Wells said his role was as a "neutral third party," to help the two sides "consider alternatives."

More trouble for customers

The idling of UPS facilities spelled more trouble Tuesday for American businesses and consumers, who were forced to seek other ways to ship their packages, parcels and documents. Rivals such as the U.S. Postal Service and Federal Express Corp. scrambled to service stranded UPS customers.

J.C. Penney, which had shipped more than 200,000 packages each day via UPS, said it was asking customers to pick up items at its stores. For those customers who can't get to stores, packages are being sent parcel post.

At the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, curator Barry Levenson mapped out a route among the Dane County, Wisconsin, post offices to try to sneak around a limit of four parcels per window customer imposed by the Postal Service.

Picketers confront non-striking worker

confrontation between striking and non-striking workers

Thousands of union members, including truck and van drivers, package sorters and loaders, staffed picket lines for a second day from Maine to California, while UPS managers -- many of them having risen through the ranks -- returned to their trucks as drivers.

"A few thousand" non-striking Teamsters also kept working, but UPS said nothing approaching its normal volume of 12 million packages a day could be handled.

In Atlanta, a Teamster crossing a picket line at a UPS distribution center Tuesday was confronted by co-workers. He told strikers they should be glad to have their jobs.

"How many people are out there looking for a job," UPS deliveryman Robert Lee said during the heated but non-violent exchange. "They pay us a good, fair wage."

"They don't," protested his colleagues. "What about your future down the road?" one said.

Although torn by his decision, Lee, 43, told CNN he had to consider his family.

"I've got a family to feed, three kids. And these people here (the strikers) have kids, too," he said.

Elsewhere in the country as the strike unfolded:

Strikers trying to block a UPS truck

* 10 strikers were arrested outside UPS facilities in Boston and Chicago for allegedly trying to block trucks from leaving.

* Seven picketers were charged with disorderly conduct -- one in Rhode Island and the others in Massachusetts -- for blocking trucks as they rolled out of distribution centers.

* In California, two people were injured in incidents when trucks tried to cross picket lines to enter UPS plants.

* In Philadelphia, strikers said they allowed about 20 trucks to leave the distribution center because they were carrying important medical supplies.

UPS international operations unaffected

FedEx branch in Tennessee

The strike was expected to have little effect on overseas UPS traffic to the United States and between countries in Europe and other international locations.

The company's intra-European and European domestic services were unaffected by the strike and the 24,000 employees were working normally Tuesday, UPS Europe said. However, it added that import traffic from the United States due to arrive in Europe later in the day "is expected to be somewhat impacted."

UPS management personnel with pilot's licenses were flying the company's international routes.

Correspondent Brian Cabell and Reuters contributed to this report.

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