Nevada Labor Home PageU-NewsSend a Letter to the Editor
Barbwire by Barbano C.O.P.
Teamsters Local 533 Current Page Home Page

News and Commentary about the UPS Strike

Here are photos from the UPS picket lines in Sparks, Nevada.
Click the image to see a larger version and more stories.


Two non-union women fired for refusal to sign for UPS deliveries

Teamsters establish food bank and relief fund

UPS strike having impact on many local businesses

Part-time UPS workers cite conditions

Two UPS workers and teenager arrested by Sparks PD

Press Reports on the UPS Strike


Keep tempers under controlDaily Sparks Tribune editorial 8/7/97

Strike raises serious issuesDaily Sparks Tribune editorial 8/5/97

August 15, 1997

Two non-union women fired for refusal to sign for UPS deliveries
Federal charges filed against Bently Nevada Corp.

MINDEN, Nevada (U-News)—Two women at a Lake Tahoe area industrial company were fired on August 8 for refusing to sign for UPS deliveries. Yesterday, they filed charges of illegal termination and unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board in Oakland, Calif.

Jessica Gomes, 40, of Gardnerville, Nev., and Carlene O'Neil, 56, of Carson City, Nev., worked five years as stores clerks at Minden-based Bently Nevada Corp. Although neither belongs to a union, they had discussed with each other their reluctance to sign for any UPS parcels during the Teamsters union national strike. On August 6, O'Neil saw a UPS truck arriving and immediately went into Gomes' office. "I told her to get someone to sign for the delivery because I didn't want to. I felt it was the same as crossing a picket line which I don't believe in doing," O'Neil says.

Gomes and O'Neil had a co-worker sign for the UPS delivery. The next day, both were questioned about the matter by their supervisor, Gene Sorem. "I told him I didn't want to sign for packages from UPS," O'Neil says. "I felt like UPS workers or any other American citizen had the right to voice their opinion. I respected that right and would not cross a picket line or sign for package deliveries," she added. A co-worker signed for the Thursday UPS parcels.

According to O'Neil's federal complaint, Sorem told her "lucky for you and lucky for us it's not your job to sign for UPS packages." The complaint also asserts that Sorem stated "you're entitled to your opinion and he could live with that, everything was ok."

On Friday, Mr. Sorem met with both women. According to the document, he said "Carlene, because of your personal beliefs and, Jessica, because you didn't sign and because of your beliefs, I've thought it over and I feel I cannot work with you under these conditions and I'm letting you go."

O'Neil expressed shock. "I loved working at Bently, and it's hard to find a new job when you're 56," she says. O'Neil lives in Carson City about 30 miles north of Minden and does not drive. Gomes is the sole support of her husband and nine-year-old twins. She now works at a $5.00 per hour part-time job running keno at a casino. Gomes spent part of this week applying for food stamps so that she could feed her children.

She also contacted the Teamsters union, which denounced Bently's action. "These two women deserve the gratitude of every worker in America," stated Reno-based Teamsters Local 533 secretary-treasurer Lou Martino. "They stood up for their beliefs and paid a tremendous price. We will do whatever we can to help them because they tried to help us," he added.

In an addendum to her federal charges, Gomes states "there have been attempts to unionize Bently Nevada during the time I have worked there. We have been told that if we talked to anybody handing out union literature, we'd be fired. You mention union and you're fired."

The two allege that it's illegal to fire people in cases like theirs. Section 157 of the National Labor Relations Act states "Employees shall have the right to...assist labor organizations...and to assist in other concerted activities for the purposes of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection."

O'Neil comes from a union family. Her father worked as a union longshoreman in Long Beach, Calif. Gomes once served as a shop steward in an organizing drive. Al Madeiros, who once led Teamsters Local 70 in the San Francisco Bay Area, was the great-uncle of Gomes' husband, David.

Jessica Gomes and Carlene O'Neil served in the U.S. Marine Corps, each attaining the rank of lance corporal. "I fought for the right to express yourself, to say what you believe," Gomes says. "I believe in unions and peoples' rights."

Minden-based Bently employs between 500 and a thousand workers at far-flung locations. The company manufactures high-tech monitoring equipment which detects wear on fast-spinning machinery. Minden lies in Douglas County, about 60 miles south of Reno in ranchlands below Lake Tahoe.


UPDATE 1998 : Illegally Fired Bently Workers Win at Highest Level

UPDATE 2002: Jessica Gomes killed in auto accident

From the August 12 Daily Sparks Tribune:

UPS strike having impact on many local businesses
by Joanna Welch, Tribune staff

For some, business couldn't be better. For others, it's been a devastating blow. For a handful, it's a wakeup call.

One week after union employees walked off their jobs at United Parcel Service, the ramifications have undoubtedly been varied.

As the country's largest shipper ground to a halt, shipping only 10 percent of the 12 million packages they normally handle each day, businesses began turning to either UPS' competitors or abandoning any attempts to send packages.

"We are swamped, swamped. We are so swamped we don't have time to talk," Terica Owens of California Sierra Express said Monday before hanging up the phone.

Mari Andrews, owner of Mail Boxes, Etc., in Sparks, admits the effects of the strike haven't been too bad so far. Since Andrews had a Federal Express account prior to the strike, she can continue to ship her customers' packages.

"We've always used other companies. We keep accounts with all the carriers all the time," Andrews said Monday. "The people it has really affected is our customers."

In the past week, Federal Express has suspended its money-back guarantee if packages do not arrive within the specified one or two day delivery times and the company is not accepting new accounts, Darlene Faquin, a spokeswoman for the company said today.

"Currently, we are operating our drop-off service and customers can send up to five packages a day," Faquin said.

One of the few shippers that continues to guarantee express mail service is the United States Postal Service.

"It (express mail) is our premier product and it's comparable with UPS 'next day' and Federal Express 'overnight,'" Tim Purcell, a spokesman for the postal service said.

What surprises Purcell is the small increase in the number of packages being shipped via parcel post. The service is similar to UPS' ground service, which is the mainstay of the company.

Other local companies are feeling the effects of the strike. Help U Mail of Reno typically ships 80 percent of its items via UPS using the ground service, Lee Phelps said.

The major benefits of using UPS ground service are that it automatically insures the shipment for $100 and tracks it enroute until it arrives at its final destination.

While a package can take five to six days to make it from the west to the east coast, it is cheaper than using FedEx second day service or sending it by air freight.

"I don't think anyone could compete with their (UPS) ground service," Phelps said.

In the past week, Phelps added, he has accumulated 20 packages from customers who want them shipped once the UPS strike is over.

Business at the Box Store in Sparks is down 50 percent, according to manager Darren McClary.

"The strike has affected us in the worst way financially," McClary said.

"We send boxes to people who want to ship things. But luckily, we are backed by a large packing company."

For McClary, the strike was a wakeup call. "It wakes up America about the stranglehold UPS has on America," he said.

John Tracey, owner of Reno's Landstar Express America, hopes the strike is a wakeup call of a different kind. He hopes it prods UPS into treating its employees with a little more respect and dignity.

"I wouldn't ask my drivers to park in red zones and run across streets with packages, risking their lives to reach a package quota," Tracey said.

"UPS should treat its employees a little better."

Strikers are entering their second week without pay. Starting next week, they will receive $55 per week from the Teamsters strike fund. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) announced it would contribute to the union fund.

According to UPS, approximately 7,000 strikers nationwide have already crossed the picket lines and returned to work. The unions continue to dispute this figure, maintaining it is grossly inflated.


© August 12, 1997, the Daily Sparks Tribune Reproduced by permission of the publisher. No endorsement of the other content of this website should be inferred.

AUGUST 6, 1997 4:00 P.M.

Teamster UPS workers and teenage daughter arrested by Sparks PD for asking questions of officers

Two UPS strikers and one teenager were arrested yesterday in front of the Sparks UPS terminal on Vista Blvd. Longtime workers Randy Hobbs and Greg Kneisel and Kneisel's 15 year-old daughter were cited and handcuffed by Sparks Sgt. Jack Beach (702-353-2279; Sgt. Beach was unavailable for a statement at U-News deadline. His response, if any, will be posted here.

Lt. Paul Ochs, speaking for the department, said "my understanding is they were blocking the entrance while picketing. They were asked several times to move and refused to do so." Lt. Ochs was not present at the arrest.

Hobbs says UPS trucks assembled at Mendive Middle School and were escorted through the gates by Sparks police. Hobbs says he was cited "for not getting out of the way of the returning trucks fast enough. An officer said 'get over.' I asked 'what for?' and was arrested." Hobbs added that "Kneisel was told to 'get on the sidewalk.' Kneisel was standing out of the line of traffic and asked 'what sidewalk?,'" Hobbs said. There are no sidewalks at the site, but there are paved curbs. Kneisel was then handcuffed, according to Hobbs. Kneisel's daughter asked "what are you doing to my father?" Beach then cuffed her, Hobbs stated. Each was driven in a police car several blocks away and released. They were driven back to the picket line by Teamsters Local 533 CEO Lou Martino.

"I know Jack Beach and I think he totally over-reacted. Our people were involved in lawful activity," Martino said.

All three have been charged with "assembly for the purpose of committing an unlawful act" and "obstructing an officer." They face $425 fines in Sparks Municipal Court on August 24. The situation is different in Houston, where local police have announced a zero-tolerance for management driven UPS trucks. Members of the Houston Police Patrolmen's Union have announced that they will pull UPS trucks over for any violation. "Once HPPU members get the vehicle stopped, they are instructed to go into a 'zero tolerance' mode and cite each and every violation of the law they find," the union said in a statement today.

UPDATE: Striking Teamster Proves Prophetic About Sparks Police Department

NEW NEVADA LABOR WEBSITE: Because of all the erroneous information disseminated by UPS, Nevada has its first general labor website at It will be edited by longtime labor activist Andrew Barbano.

"In addition to breaking news, we will place information useful to striking workers on the site," Barbano said. "We will also tell the untold story, that of the hardships of the workers who have had the courage to go on strike. The news media have been full of stories talking about impacts on business, but little or nothing about workers who will not even see their first $55 weekly strike pay checks for another two weeks," Barbano said.

(Journalists and editors: if you are interested in interviewing the two Teamster arrestees or any striking workers, especially part-timers, please contact U-News.)

STRIKE BRIEFS: Postal workers showed up at the UPS Sparks picket line and told picketers they would ask their union leadership if they could join striking Teamsters. Longtime Nevada Association of Letter Carriers President Joseph Assalone (702-648-2062, today told U-News that such activity is both permitted and encouraged...In Washington, American Postal Workers Union President Moe Biller threw the support of his union behind the Teamsters by refusing a request from the postal service to hire emergency temporary workers to help handle the increased volume resulting from the shutdown of UPS. "There will be no waiver granted by the APWU to increase the use and number of casuals at the national or local level," Biller said...Indianapolis, Ind., Federal Express workers are joining striking Teamsters on the picket lines this afternoon...The staff at Laborers' Union Local 169 in Reno has refused deliveries from UPS this week...Reno Machinists Local 801 President Robert S. Ryan complains about UPS video surveillance of his workers who have refused to cross the line and instead march with their co-workers ...Local 533 members are following and legally picketing the few UPS vehicles out on delivery in northern Nevada. The law and rules governing such activity will be posted at this site.


From the front page of the August 7 Daily Sparks Tribune:

Part-time UPS workers cite conditions, talks resume today
By Joanna Welch Staff writer

Concerns about the United Parcel Service strike revolve around late deliveries and no deliveries, but at the core of Monday's mass walkout is the increasing number of part-time workers employed by the company.

In the past nine years, the company has doubled the number of part-time employees from 30 to 60 percent, Lou Martino, principal officer of Teamsters Local 533, said recently.

Fran Caliendo Richardson has worked as a part-time sorter at UPS for the past two years at the Vista Boulevard center.

With a 4 a.m. start time, Richardson ends her shift by 9 a.m. Richardson, who is hoping for a full-time UPS job, works a second job at a Virginia City hotel.

"My goal is to become a driver, get a job and get a pension, but it sounds like the company is going in the opposite direction. It's sad, really," she said Wednesday.

Richardson, like thousands of other UPS employees, is on the union's seniority list. When a full-time job comes up, if she's qualified and at the top of the list, the job will go to her.

Charlie Dunn, like Richardson,works part-time unloading and sorting the packages at the Sparks warehouse before they are shipped out to customers.

Dunn works four and one-half hours a day unloading and sorting. But on Saturdays he works an eight-hour shift as a driver—one of the more coveted jobs at UPS.

Despite working close to 35 hours a week, just five hours less than a standard work week, Dunn remains on part-time status because he, like a number of part-time employees, "volunteers" to work the extra hours.

But if Dunn calls in sick on a Saturday, he doesn't receive sick pay.

"It would be nice to work five days and have weekends off. If I take Saturdays off, it's a dent in my paycheck," Dunn said.

Only during the company's peak season is Ken Odums offered overtime. He has worked for UPS as a sorter for a year, and like the majority of his colleagues, he is on the waiting list to go full-time.

The peak season runs from October through early January. But during this period, the company will also hire temporary employees to make up for the increased workload.

According to Cori Barrett, a UPS spokeswoman, the company employs 12,000 part-time employees in its northwest region and employs a total of 300,000 nationwide.

Four days into the strike, the Teamsters and UPS are meeting today with federal mediators to hold "informal talks."

Despite an apparent break in the impasse, "our battle cry remains to allow UPS employees a chance to vote on the contract," Barrett said. UPS has added 13,000 full-time jobs over the past four years and has offered to add an additional 10,000 for the life of the next contract, Barrett said. The contract runs for approximately four years.

Holding a banner and sporting a deep tan, Kenton Montegna is a full-time driver for the company.

"We really hustle on our jobs," he said, adding that on average, he works five to seven hours of overtime a week.

"I don't think I've ever worked a flat 40-hour week since I've been here," he said. "We could use some more full-time employees in this hub."

Montegna says he hasn't decided if his career lies with UPS and he doesn't stand to gain personally from the strike.

"I've no need to strike except to support my part-time colleagues," he said.


Teamsters establish food bank and relief fund for striking UPS employees
Hold candlelight vigil for UPS manager killed in accident

RENO, Nevada (U-News)—Teamsters Local 533 has established a food bank and relief fund for striking UPS workers. Individuals may send checks to the Teamsters Local 533 Relief Fund in care of Washoe Credit Union, P.O. Box 70099, Reno, Nev., 89570. Legal restrictions prohibit company or corporate contributions.

Family food donations can be dropped off at the Teamsters office at 316 Vassar Street, half a block east of Wells Avenue in Reno. Canned and boxed goods and other non-perishable products and toiletries are encouraged. For more information call (702) 348-6060.

Striking employees attended candlelight vigils Thursday, August 14, for a UPS manager who lost his life in a Tennessee highway accident earlier this week. Western Nevada Teamsters held their ceremony in front of the Vista Boulevard UPS terminal in Sparks. Local 533 secretary-treasurer Lou Martino encouraged Teamsters in Ely, Elko, Fallon, Winnemucca and South Lake Tahoe to conduct similar events.

Floyd Parta, 48, of Mount Juliet, Tenn., died Monday when his tractor-trailer ran off a highway ramp. Parta was taking the rig from a railway yard to a Nashville UPS terminal. The setup went over a 2-1/2-foot wall on an entrance ramp. The cab landed on its roof on Interstate 65.


© August 7, 1997, the Daily Sparks Tribune Reproduced by permission of the publisher. No endorsement of the other content of this website should be inferred.

In an August 7 editorial, the Daily Sparks Tribune wrote:

Keep tempers under control

As the United Parcel Service strike enters its fourth day, apparently tempers are flaring.

Two adults and a teenage girl were arrested Tuesday by a Sparks police sergeant who claims they refused to clear a driveway as UPS trucks were returning to the Sparks Boulevard headquarters. Those who were cited disput e the claim.

Randy Hobbs, who has worked at UPS for 17 years, was one of those ticketed. Greg Kneisel and his 15-year-old daughter are also accused of blocking access to the company. All three were handcuffed and cited before they were set free. The ticket issued has a minimum fine of $425.

Hobbs says the arrest was unnecessary and police overreacted after they were asked to escort the big brown trucks at the end of the day. The vehicles are being driven by managers who are trying to deliver packages while the strike continues.

"There was no need for all of it, it was like they were making a statement," Hobbs said. "I thought we were assembled to picket. I thought we had a legal right to do that."

Picketing is legal, but certain boundaries must be respected. A union handbook spells out what picketers may and may not do. They are allowed to enter areas used by the general public where they may slowly walk back and forth between entrances and exits to the company.

In this case, it will eventually be up to a judge to decide if any laws were violated. Hobbs said he and Kneisel simply asked questions after receiving orders from police to "get over there." He alleges that when he asked the officer why he must move, that is when the cuffs were slapped on.

He said Kneisel got the same treatment after an officer told him to get on the sidewalk. Kneisel pointed out that there was no sidewalk in front of the gate and was arrested. When his daughter questioned what was happening to her father, she was also promptly handcuffed, according to Hobbs.

The arrests will do nothing to ensure calm as the strikers continue to picket here and across the nation. The issues of pay, part-time employees and benefits are extremely emotional for the workers. As the strike drags on, tempers will become frazzled for those on both sides of the issue.

We urge restraint on the part of UPS employees. They should follow the law to the letter and not confront or challenge any trucks entering or leaving the UPS yard.

Sparks police also need to brush up on what the strikers may legally do during their protest and not inflame the situation with frivolous arrests when conversation might work better to settle any dispute.

Hopefully, the strike will end soon since talks will resume today. Until then, both union members and management need to act responsibly and within their legal rights.


© August 7, 1997, the Daily Sparks Tribune Reproduced by permission of the publisher. No endorsement of the other content of this website should be inferred.

In an August 5, 1997, editorial, the Daily Sparks Tribune wrote:

Strike raises serious issues

A national walkout by United Parcel Service workers has brought package delivery to a near standstill.

The employees went on strike at midnight Sunday over wages, part-time workers and pension issues. Today, there is no indication the union and management at UPS will be resuming talks anytime soon.

The walkout has crippled the UPS distribution center in Sparks and similar operations throughout the country. The effects are being felt after only one day of idle workers walking the picket line.

One of the major issues is the number of part-time workers employed by UPS. Almost two-thirds of its 302,000 employees are part-time employees. They say that is not fair and some of those workers are asked to pull double and triple shifts, but aren't receiving full benefits and retirement benefits.

The strike has brought attention to the increasing number of companies that are leaning toward part-time workers instead of full-time employees. This strike is important because it could affect thousands of other companies and the way they operate.

President Bill Clinton said Monday he will not interfere with the walkout and hopes the two sides can return to the bargaining table. Last year, he stepped in when American Airlines pilots went on strike and ordered them back to work, but vows to stay out of this situation.

Clinton's decision is a good one. The issue of part-time versus full-time workers in the United States needs to be decided. Granted the UPS strike, if it continues only a few more days, will have a tremendous impact on companies throughout the United States. UPS typically ships more than 12 million packages a day.

If the strike isn't settled soon, thousands of companies could find they are temporarily out of business if packages cannot be transported to and from their intended destinations.

of the national impact, we believe the impasse will not last long. The two sides should be able to get back to discussion and hopefully that will happen before too many businesses suffer losses.

The strike is forcing America to take a hard look at a serious issue and that is good.

© August 5, 1997, the Daily Sparks Tribune Reproduced by permission of the publisher. No endorsement of the other content of this website should be inferred.

Nevada Labor Home PageU-NewsSend a Letter to the EditorBarbwire by Barbano

U-News | Letters | Campaign '98 | Guinn Watch | C.O.P. | Barbwire | About the Editor | Home Page

Site designed & maintained by
Deciding Factors
Click here to get on our mailing list