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UPS Drops Plans for Layoffs, Is Hiring Instead

Labor: 15,000 part-timers haven't returned since strike. And despite lost business, firm is looking for holiday help.

September 17, 1997|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — So many part-timers quit United Parcel Service of America Inc. during the two-week Teamsters strike that the company has dropped its layoff plans and said Tuesday it is hiring new workers.

Still, the shipping company says it has lost about 6% of its pre-strike volume because of mid-size businesses that signed up with competitors during the strike.

"The one thing the strike did was undermine the confidence these businesses had," said UPS spokesman Norman Black. "They are back to shipping a lot of volume. But at the same time they are saying, 'I can't take a chance. I need to diversify my shipping.' "

UPS' pickups recently have averaged between 11.8 million and 12 million a day, down from the 12.5-million to 12.7-million average last September, Black said.

The Atlanta-based company won't lay off 13,000 to 17,000 workers to offset the lost business because 15,000 part-timers didn't come back to work after the strike, he said. While shipments are lagging last year's levels, the company said it needs help as it nears the holidays.

Black did not immediately know how many workers UPS was looking to hire.

Jack Carlin at United Design, a Noble, Okla.-based maker of ceramic figurines that had used UPS exclusively, said the company has asked Federal Express Corp. and the U.S. Postal Service to bid for its shipping business.

"It's something we should have done, but didn't realize until the strike," Carlin said.

Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx said Monday its profit in the June-August quarter more than doubled, chiefly because of the windfall from the UPS strike. Also, FedEx estimated its volume has increased by 120,000 daily packages since the strike--about 15% of the 800,000 additional daily packages it carried while UPS was shut down.

Shares of FedEx, which released its results after markets closed on Monday, rose $4.50 Tuesday to $75.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Adding to post-strike adjustment problems at closely held UPS are reports of turmoil between Teamsters employees and management at its distribution centers in Chicago and Ontario, Calif.

Jerald Zero, spokesman for Local 705 in Chicago, said UPS was refusing to deduct more than $350,000 in local union dues from paychecks until a contract was signed. UPS spokesman Bob Godlewski said that without a valid contract, the company did not have the authority to collect the dues.

The union is threatening to go back on strike, but UPS officials say their hands are tied.

"It seems to be much ado about nothing," said Godlewski, who suggested the issue might be resolved by signing an extension agreement to bridge the gap between the old and new contracts.

In Ontario, union officials have filed complaints of mistreatment and harassment by management since the strike.

Rand Wilson, a spokesman for Teamsters International in Washington, said hundreds of employees from other areas have reported being harassed and excessively disciplined for minor infractions because they honored the picket line.

Black said he wasn't aware of any harassment.

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