TOPICS > Economy

UPS Strike: Package Deal

August 19, 1997 at 12:00 AM EDT

CHARLES KRAUSE: The strike began 15 days ago when 185,000 UPS workers represented by the Teamsters Union walked out on the UPS company. It was the largest strike in the U.S. in over a decade, disrupting the delivery of millions of packages throughout the country every day for more than two weeks. One statistic alone gives a sense of the impact. UPS controls 80 percent of all package deliveries in the United States, so there was hardly a community or a business anywhere that was not affected.

UPS said the strike cost them about $650 million in lost business. And the union paid about $10 million in strike benefits to members who got $55 a week for manning the picket lines.

The walkout centered on two key issues–the increasing use by the company of part-time workers and control of UPS pension funds by the Teamsters Union. As part of today’s settlement, the company agreed to increase pay for both part-time and full-time workers and to upgrade 10,000 part-time positions to full-time status over the next five years. The settlement also gives the union continued control over pension funds, despite the company’s move to take them over. Reaction on the picket lines was generally positive.

WORKER ON LINE: If we had a took the first proposal, we wouldn’t have got some of the things that we got now as far as in a pension, as far as benefitwise, as far as more full-time jobs.

CHARLES KRAUSE: The bargaining committee of the Teamsters Union votes tonight on the proposed settlement. If approved by the committee, the contract offer will then be sent to the rank and file members, who will vote by mail. The votes are not expected to be counted for a month. But in the interim, the striking union members will go back to work. UPS has a backlog of some 7 million packages, and some employees are expected back on the job to start making pickups and deliveries as early as tomorrow.

Today, both UPS and the Teamsters held press conferences to discuss details of the agreement. In Washington, Teamsters President Ron Carey called the settlement “a victory.”

RON CAREY: People will be celebrating our victory over corporate greed. This fight with UPS shows what working people can accomplish when they all stick together. The UPS workers stood up to throw away worker approach and the nation’s working people stood behind us. And now we’re going to go out there to other workers who want to fight for that great American dream.

CHARLES KRAUSE: UPS Chairman James Kelly spoke to reporters from the company’s headquarters in Atlanta.

JAMES KELLY, CEO United Parcel Service: This wasn’t about working families in America. This was about UPS employees. And I don’t know what broader agenda the Teamster Union has regarding working families in America. But we have provided great full-time and part-time jobs at United Parcel Service, and we improved them; we improved them to the extent that we anticipated we’d have to improve them going into these negotiations. It’s about a 3 percent improvement for our full-time employees, and something greater than that for our part-time employees in terms of wage increases.