Informal talks under way in UPS strike
August 15, 1997
Web posted at: 10:25 a.m. EDT (1425 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Representatives of United Parcel Service
and the Teamsters union resumed their informal talks on
Friday, picking up where they left off after meetings that
lasted into the early-morning hours.
Friday was the 12th day of the walkout against the nations'
largest package delivery service.
Shortly before 2 a.m. Friday, Federal Mediation and
Conciliation Service spokesman Dave Helfert announced that
the two sides had agreed to recess for several hours.
"There are some serious numbers to be crunched. It's going to
take several hours. When the work is done, they will
reconvene," he said.
After 16 hours of talks Thursday, Helfert said, "The
mediators suggested we take a break, a nap, a shower."
The talks between UPS and the Teamsters, overseen by federal
mediator John Calhoun Wells, were being characterized by all
sides as informal talks, rather than a formal negotiating
But key decision makers from both sides attended the talks at
a Hyatt hotel in Washington, as did U.S. Secretary of Labor
UPS and the Teamsters agreed to Thursday's talks at the
behest of Herman, who earlier in the day said she believed
there were promising signs that the two sides might settle
"Their presence here today is a clear signal of their
commitment to redouble their efforts to try to reach a
settlement," Herman said. "I urge them to stay at the table
until they reach a settlement."
Earlier, Teamsters President Ron Carey canceled
a planned appearance at a rally in Atlanta so that he could
stay at the talks in Washington. Herman canceled a scheduled
trip Friday to her hometown, Mobile, Alabama.
UPS chief signals flexibility on pension flap
The main sticking points between UPS and the Teamsters
involve the company's use of part-time, instead of full-time,
workers; a UPS proposal to pull out of the Teamsters'
multi-employer pension fund; and subcontracting. More than
half of the Teamsters on strike are part-time workers.
In a telephone interview Thursday from the company's Atlanta
headquarters, UPS Chairman James Kelly indicated that the
company might be willing to compromise on the pension issue,
which Teamsters officials have said would be a deal-breaker.
"We think the pension issue is very important for both our
people and the future of our company," he said. "But as I
said, there is no one or two single issues that will
determine whether we're able to reach agreement."
Kelly said Thursday that if the latest talks produced progress, it could lead UPS to eventually drop what it has until now termed its "last, best and final" offer.
Later, the company stressed that while it was exploring all
options in the informal talks, there had been no change in
its formal negotiating position.
Poll: Public supports strikers 2-1
A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that the public
supports the strikers over UPS by a 55-27 percent margin.
However, nearly two thirds of those surveyed said striking
workers should get to vote on UPS' last offer, as company
officials have requested. The union has declined to put the
offer before its membership.
The poll also found little support for requests by UPS and
business groups for President Clinton to intervene in the
dispute and issue a back-to-work order.
Only 21 percent of those polled believe Clinton should
intervene. And only 28 percent said they had personally been
affected by the strike.
The survey of 819 adults was taken August 12-13 and had a
margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Other unions pony up support
Other unions have shown their support for the 185,000
striking Teamsters by offering to help the union build a
massive fund to pay striking workers in the event of a
"The labor movement is solidly behind the Teamsters at UPS,"
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said Thursday. "We hope that
the strike will be resolved and that a good contract will
come out of it."
To support the Teamsters, three airlines -- Evergreen
International, Southern Air Transport and Transcontinental --
have agreed not to haul goods affected by the strike, said
James Sutton, vice president of the Independent Pilots
Association, which represents 2,000 UPS pilots.
"Airlines carrying struck UPS goods are only making matters
worse for everyone. By helping UPS limp along, they are
prolonging the strike," Sutton said.
The strike has snarled package delivery and impacted
thousands of businesses large and small. Some companies
affected by the strike have begun laying off workers, as the
dispute's impact ripples across the nation's economy.
Correspondent Gene Randall and Reuters contributed to this report.