White House enters strike

By Jeannine Aversa Associated Press Published:

Federally mediated talks broke off on Saturday an sent the strike _ which is crippling the nation's busy package delivery system _ into a second week with little sign either side will budge.

President Clinton has been following the strike, Herman said Sunday, "But we don't believe that this situation has reached the state of what we define as a national emergency."

But early today, she said in a statement, "I've asked the leaders of the Teamsters union and the United Parcel Service to meet with me today at the Labor Department and they have both agreed. I intend to talk with each party individually to find out what it will take to move these talks forward and to urge greater flexibility and a willingness to compromise to get back to the bargaining table."

Herman told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, "The president recognizes that these are serious issues: the nature of part-time work, pension protection for American workers. These are all issues that we care about."

The issue of striker replacement has threatened to escalate tensions.

"I can't promise anything," UPS Vice Chairman John Alden said today on ABC's "Good Morning America" when asked if UPS would hire replacements for strikers. "Right now we have no plans to hire people. We would like our people to come back to work. I can't promise what the future will bring.'

Herman had cautioned the parties not to "escalate this strike" and said hiring replacements for the 185,000 striking union members "does contribute to that escalation."

"I think he would have a problem" if the company did hire replacements, Teamsters President Ron Carey said on CBS on Sunday. He did not elaborate.

"I'm convinced that there is still room here for a settlement," Herman said Sunday. "If they will redouble their efforts and commit to taking these issues back to the bargaining table, we can settle this strike."

UPS normally handles 12 million parcels and letters daily. The work stoppage's damage to small businesses operations throughout the country has governors and business leaders clamoring for White House intervention.

Under the Taft-Hartley Act, the president must determine that the nation's safety and health is imperiled before he can intervene to force an end to the walkout. Herman said the administration is sensitive to the plight of small businesses and is monitoring the strike's impact on the economy.

"The question of Taft-Hartley ... is one that seems to me lies in the future, not now," Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said in analyzing the strike's economic implications.

Rubin said on ABC's "This Week" that the law "has very stringent requirements. It hasn't been invoked in over 20 years. In fact the last time a president tried to use it, he was rebuffed by the courts."

UPS' Kelly urged Clinton to step in to stop serious damage to the economy. Without such intervention, he doubted an agreement can be negotiated soon. "There are so many open issues, and we are so far apart, it would be very difficult to get it done in a short period of time without some intervention," Kelly said.

Carey and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, on ABC, argued against government involvement. "I think the president is committed to collective bargaining," Sweeney said.

A Fox News poll released Sunday showed that more American voters sympathize with the striking workers than with UPS, and only 28 percent said they had been inconvenienced by the walkout either at home or at work.

Of 906 registered voters interviewed Wednesday and Thursday, 44 percent sympathized with the strikers, 27 percent with UPS and the rest could not say. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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