Tensions rose Tuesday on United Parcel Service picket lines and at small businesses that depend on UPS for timely delivery of their products - including a company that stopped shipping lobsters because the crustaceans were dead on arrival.
UPS says it normally moves the equivalent of 6 percent of the U.S. gross national product each day, so the strike’s effects were beginning to ripple through the nation’s economy.
There was no hint of a settlement in the second day of the Teamsters’ walkout against UPS after a stalemate over pay, pensions and heavy use of part-time employees. No talks were scheduled, and the White House reiterated that President Clinton had no plans to intervene.
Pickets were arrested at several UPS sites around the country, and there were angry confrontations at others as management and other non-union workers drove the brown delivery vehicles. UPS spokesman Mark Dickens estimated the Atlanta-based company was running at less than 10 percent capacity.
“We’ve got a lot of management folks out there making every attempt to operate as best we can, but it’s a fraction of what we’ve been doing,” Dickens said. He said UPS was focusing on critical shipments such as medical supplies, and was making very few new pickups.
UPS competitors, conceding they couldn’t pick up all the overflow of packages, put restrictions on customers and new business.
“The fact of the matter is this company is shut down,” Teamsters President Ron Carey said at a rally outside a UPS distribution center in Burtonsville, Md.
Carey suggested it “makes sense to start bargaining.” But Dickens said the company’s position was that its last contract offer was final and should be submitted to the union’s membership for a vote.
Labor Secretary Alexis Herman spoke to Carey and UPS Chairman James Kelly in telephone calls and urged them to return to the bargaining table.