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Ups To Resume Talks With Pilots Both Sides Heed Mediator’s Call For Early Return To Negotiations

From Wire Reports

United Parcel Service, still reeling from its 15-day Teamsters strike, said talks will resume Sunday with its pilots union.

The more than 2,000 UPS pilots in the Independent Pilots Association honored Teamsters picket lines, and the union has said it believes the Teamsters would honor theirs if they walked out.

Ken Shapero, a spokesman at the UPS air cargo hub in Louisville, Ky., said the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service contacted both parties and asked if they’d like to resume talks now in the aftermath of the Teamsters strike. The federally mediated talks were suspended in May and hadn’t been expected to start again until next month.

“We are happy to do it,” Shapero said of the meeting in Louisville.

Pilots spokesman Bob Ziegler said the union had been eager to return to the table. “We’re very pleased,” he said. “This is the best thing for the customers. We need to settle our differences.”

UPS officials had acknowledged this week that uncertainty about the pilots union could hinder efforts to rebuild customer confidence. The pilots worked 20 months under an old contract with UPS before they began honoring the Teamsters strike on Aug. 4.

The pilots could not legally strike unless the federal mediator declared an impasse and called a 30-day cooling-off period.

The major difference is pay, and the two sides don’t agree on the size of the proposed pay increase the company has offered.

Pilots said the offer is 11.5 percent over five years. The company said that figure fails to account for additional annual raises for seniority. It said one offer made in May would have raised the average pilot’s pay 32.4 percent by 2001 - from $107,893 to $142,815. Average pay would go up immediately by 11.3 percent, to $120,082, the company said.

In Chicago, UPS said it has reached tentative agreement with 11,000-member Teamsters Local 705, ending a strike over local issues.

The Chicago local was the last holdout among the 185,000 striking workers. Ground service in the Chicago area is expected to return to normal levels within a few days, a UPS official said.

Meanwhile, UPS also said Friday that people who recently got off welfare may be among the casualties of the Teamsters strike.

UPS has been a presidentially recognized leader in welfare-to-work initiatives, but officials said layoffs could hit some former welfare recipients and others from disadvantaged backgrounds hired through special programs.

“We hope we’re wrong,” spokesman Norman Black said.

The company has estimated the strike will cost it at least 5 percent of its business, triggering layoffs of 15,500 workers. UPS officials said no decision on layoffs can be made until a post-strike surge in backlogged deliveries levels off.

The company picked up 16 million packages Wednesday, its first post-strike business day, and a similar amount Thursday, Black said. It expected 15 million pickups Friday.

Deliveries also were accelerating, from 2.8 million Wednesday to an estimated 8 million Friday.

Before the strike, UPS’ normal daily volume was 12 million packages.

“When we get through this surge and things stabilize, we hope we’re back at 12 million a day,” Black said. “But that’s not what we’re expecting.”

Under its Teamsters contract, UPS is obligated to make layoffs based on seniority.

The company didn’t have any estimate of how many former welfare recipients could be laid off. UPS has been active in recruiting and training welfare recipients for more than two decades.

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