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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.

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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.


© 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.

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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.

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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.

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