It's official: Teamsters end UPS strike
August 20, 1997
Web posted at: 3:54 a.m. EDT (0754 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Teamsters' 16-day walkout against United Parcel Service has ended.
The tentative agreement between UPS and the Teamsters union was approved by local
unions leaders Tuesday and workers could be back to work as early as Wednesday.
"Tonight the elected leaders of the local unions unanimously approved
the agreement with UPS," Teamsters President Ron Carey said Tuesday evening.
"They were united and extremely enthusiastic about the breakthroughs that
we had won in these negotiations."
"Our members will be going back to work as soon as the company calls them back," he said.
He then thanked the public and UPS customers for supporting the strike, saying, "this
victory would never have been achieved without the support of working families all across America."
First the contract was unanimously approved by the 50-member union negotiating team.
Then Carey explained the fine details of the proposal to a group made up of two
representatives from each of the 206 union locals which has UPS members. A Teamsters
official said they then voted unanimously to accept the tentative contract, ending the
16-day strike that crippled package deliveries in the United States.
Sources told CNN that when Carey walked into the meeting, he received a long standing ovation.
The union now sends the contract out to the union members for ratification. All 185,000 Teamster UPS members will receive ballots to vote on the agreement; the ratification process will likely take about a month.
It is not yet known how long it will take UPS employees to return to the job. But company spokesman Ken Sternad said Normal UPS service could begin Wednesday morning or "maybe even late this (Tuesday) evening."
It would still take "a couple of days" to completely restore operations, he said.
UPS predicts layoffs
Company officials said they were working to win back lost customers but the strike will still mean layoffs, Sternad said, because of customers who've taken their business elsewhere for good.
"Some of our good customers have signed long-term contracts with competitors ... When we start up there will definitely be fewer jobs to come back to," he told CNN in a live interview.
The company said as many as 15,000 jobs could be lost. Carey admitted there might be some short-term job losses but called the 15,000 number a "scare tactic" left over from the intense hours of bargaining.
Steven Lewins, an analyst with Gruntal & Co., said customers will likely try to find shipping alternatives "so
they don't get stuck in this position again, but when you
control most of the market, how far can customers go?"
Carey called the settlement a great victory for working people. "In virtually every area this agreement is much, much better than the last offer before the strike," he said late Monday night.
But UPS Chairman and CEO James Kelly said Tuesday that the agreement "could have been achieved without a strike."
"It seems this strike was planned and orchestrated ... and negotiations should have begun five months ago," he told reporters.
The Teamsters had wanted a two- or three-year deal, but agreed to a five-year contract.
The agreement also calls for UPS to create 10,000 full-time jobs from existing part-time positions over the life of the contract. Originally, the company had proposed creating 1,000 full-time jobs.
The $8 an hour base pay goes up 50 cents. The average pay of a UPS driver -- $19.95 an hour -- will increase by $3.10 an hour over the life of the contract. The pay for a part-time worker will go up by $4.10 an hour.
UPS had wanted to withdraw from the Teamsters' multi-employer pension plan and to create a new retirement plan solely for UPS workers. However, under the agreement, UPS agreed to keep the existing system.
Asked if UPS had "caved in," Sternad didn't give a direct reply but called the contract "the first five-year agreement we've ever had with the union."
"It gives us some stability to look forward to. And it falls within the financial parameters that we had set for ourselves when we started negotiations," he said.
Kelly described the deal as "affordable" and said it would allow UPS to remain competitive.
Herman: Deal not inflationary
Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, who announced the tentative settlement early Monday morning in Washington, said she did not believe the contract would be inflationary.
"I don't believe they would have signed on to an agreement that they didn't believe would be in the best interest of their company and their workers," she later told CNN.
Herman had coaxed the two sides back to the negotiating table Thursday and sat in on several meetings. Under direct pressure, and with some prodding from President Clinton, the agreement was hashed out during five days of virtually nonstop talks.
President Clinton complimented both sides for resolving the dispute. Asked by a reporter if the tentative deal is "an outright victory for the labor movement," Clinton said the pact should not be viewed as a defeat for UPS. "I wouldn't characterize it that way," he said in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where the first family is vacationing.
Correspondent Brian Cabell contributed to this report.