WASHINGTON (AP) - The Teamsters, saying negotiations had yielded little progress, set a new strike deadline of midnight Sunday as union negotiators prepared to send revised demands to United Parcel Service.
"The brown trucks won't be rolling unless this company agrees to provide the good jobs that American families need," union President Ron Carey said Saturday.
After 15 hours of intensive talks over two days at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, frustrated union officials said there really wasn't much bargaining going on.
"I'm disappointed by the lack of progress," Carey said after he asked for a recess to discuss the situation with his bargaining committee Friday night.
The 50-member committee met until midnight, going over their contract proposal item by item to see if there were any changes that might generate more fruitful discussions with the package delivery giant.
A revised proposal with new offers regarding full-time positions and wages was being prepared Saturday to deliver to UPS through the federal mediator.
But union officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the company had failed to address their key issues of putting an end to subcontracting, creating more full-time jobs and increasing wages.
The union set its new strike deadline for midnight Sunday after postponing the original strike deadline Thursday night at the request of the federal mediator.
In addition to the union's demands, another sticking point was the company's request that it be allowed to withdraw from the Teamsters' multi-employer pension and health funds.
Union officials consider the demand a diversion and say they told UPS more than a month ago that such a move would be a deal killer.
"We looked very hard to try to find some solutions to some very complex problems," Carey said Friday. "I'm disappointed that we could not find some common ground."
UPS spokeswoman Gina Ellrich said no job action appeared imminent, but a message on the union's answering machine Saturday offered a cool assessment of the situation:
"No progress has been made and no agreements have been reached," the statement said. "No decision has been reached about further meetings or further action."
The Teamsters contract covering nearly two-thirds of the delivery giant's 302,000 U.S. employees expired at midnight Thursday. But talks continued until dawn Friday and then resumed in the afternoon for six hours.
Atlanta-based UPS carries about 12 million parcels and documents a day. Questions about its labor situation led customers to seek alternative carriers.
Ellrich said "hundreds of thousands of packages" had been diverted to other companies, and that hundreds of UPS workers were laid off.
Along with increases in pay and pensions, the Teamsters have pressed UPS to limit subcontracting, strengthen safety and health provisions and create more full-time jobs. About two-thirds of the employees represented by the union work part time.
The company said that in addition to a modest wage increase, the offer it made Wednesday included a $3,060 bonus for full-time employees and $1,530 for part-timers. Full-time UPS drivers earn $19.95 an hour on average.
UPS also said it would create 1,000 new full-time jobs and give part-timers a leg up in applying for full-time positions when they become open. The Teamsters have demanded more full-time jobs.
If a strike is called, UPS' 2,000 pilots, represented by the International Pilots Association, have pledged to walk out with the Teamsters.
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