No progress made in UPS strike talks
Another negotiating round set for SaturdayAugust 8, 1997
Web posted at: 11:21 p.m. EDT (0321 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Negotiators for United Parcel Service and the Teamsters Union met for nine hours Friday but reported no progress in reaching an agreement to end a strike that has idled 185,000 workers, snarled package delivery across the United States and cost UPS millions in revenues.
Another negotiating session -- the third since the strike began Monday -- is set to begin at noon Saturday. But Teamsters Union President Ron Carey hinted that the union may not continue the talks past Saturday, unless the two sides start moving closer to an agreement.
"I'm not going to spend any more time here, if we're not about to start making progress," said Carey as he left the negotiating session in Washington Friday night. He said he and other union officials would begin "a new phase" by traveling around the country to meet with and encourage strikers.
Saturday's session was requested by federal mediator John Calhoun Wells, who is overseeing the negotiating process.
"You never hit the ball unless you get up to the plate and swing the bat," Wells said. "We haven't hit a home run yet, but we're still swinging and we're still trying."
Part-time jobs, pensions at heart of dispute
As Carey walked into the talks Friday afternoon, he reiterated the union's position that "part-time America won't work -- that's the issue."
About 60 percent of UPS employees work part-time, and the union wants the number of full-time jobs expanded. But UPS officials say the company's "last, best, and final offer" addresses union concerns and offers to increase the number of full-time jobs.
"We feel it's a great offer," said UPS chief negotiator Dave Murray on his way into the talks. "It deals with all the issues the Teamsters raised [and] rewards our people for the hard work they do for us."
"We believe the Teamsters should allow our people to come back to work and vote that offer and let the people decide if they like it or not," Murray said.
Carey said the UPS proposal could be a basis for resolving the dispute -- but only if the company moves away from viewing the offer as "final" and toward what he termed "middle ground."
"If the company is still talking about its proposal as it is on the table, it seems to me that's a dead end," he said.
Labor secretary: 'Redouble efforts' to end strike
U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman met Friday morning with Wells and later called representatives from both sides and "urged them to resume their discussions and finish the job."
"We urge them to redouble their efforts to settle this dispute on behalf of the American people," Herman said in a statement.
Also Friday, UPS lawyers asked a judge to block strikers from interfering with their trucks in Somerville, Massachusetts, where 23 Teamsters have been arrested for trying to block delivery trucks from leaving the building.
In Florida, a judge issued an emergency injunction limiting strikers in Dade County to groups of five or less and ordering them not to get in the way of replacement drivers.
Teamsters may be under financial pressure
Starting next week, the 185,000 strikers will begin collecting $55 a week in strike benefits from the Teamsters, which could cost the union more than $10 million.
The Teamsters may be under financial pressures of their own to settle the walkout. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that labor documents show the Teamsters have $98 million in assets but $81 million in liabilities for a net worth of $17 million. Of that, $6.7 million was tied up in the union's Washington headquarters.
Other unions may come to the aid of the Teamsters, but as CNN reported earlier this week, the Teamsters already owe $4 million to the AFL-CIO, $2.8 million to the United Auto Workers union and more than $2 million to the United Mine Workers union.
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