7/25/08

Teamsters set Aug. 1 strike date v. UPS

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Workers prepare to halt work, pay

A strike by United Parcel Service workers could hit the Chicago metropolitan area next week. Teamsters Local 705 will launch a strike a week from today against the world's biggest package delivery company if the two sides aren't able to reach agreement on a new contract, said the local's Secretary-Treasurer Steve Pocztowski.

The union represents roughly 11,000 drivers, package handlers and other part-time and full-time UPS workers in the Chicago area, where the hourly pay currently ranges between roughly $8.50 and $28, Pocztowski said.

Talks also are under way between UPS and Teamsters Local 710 in Chicago, which represents about 6,000 workers. But no strike authorization vote has been set by that local, according to UPS. The local couldn't be reached for comment.

Local 705 workers voted overwhelmingly Sunday to authorize a strike if a fair agreement isn't reached. It is seeking a $1-an-hour wage increase across the board and a $1-an-hour increase in benefits, sad Pocztowski, a former UPS driver.

UPS offered a 30-cent-an-hour increase, he said, an offer Pocztowski labeled "an insult."

Besides pay and benefits, remaining issues include subcontracting work and job security, Pocztowski said.

The six-year UPS contracts at Local 710 and 705 expire at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 1.

UPS spokesman Norman Black said it's not unusual for a strike authorization vote to be taken as a contract expiration nears. He said the company is confident "we're going to get a contract that rewards our people" at Local 710 and 705 and that is good for the company and its customers.

UPS negotiated a five-year national agreement last year covering roughly 220,000 workers elsewhere that boosted wages 2.7 percent and also increased benefits, Black said.

UPS and Local 705 are scheduled to meet again July 29 and 31, Pocztowski said.

"We are done with them at 4:30 p.m. on the 31st," he said, if an agreement is not reached.

(suntimes.com)

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