UPS, Teamsters keep talking

By Kevin Galvin Associated Press Published:

Union officials dismissed any talk of an imminent settlement, but government officials hoped the latest round of mediation would bring a halt to the work stoppage by 185,000 Teamsters.

Representatives from the package delivery giant and the 1.4 million-member union began the latest round of meetings Thursday at the urging of Labor Secretary Alexis Herman.

Friday's caucuses and conferences had continued through the night, and discussions were ongoing late Saturday afternoon.

"They've been at it almost nonstop for more than 32 hours _ that's on top of 16 hours on Thursday," said a Labor Department spokesman, who asked not to be identified. "That's more than a full work week packed into two and a half days, and they're still up there working on the issues."

But the union's field services department held a teleconference with local officials across the country to begin coordinating a series of strike actions scheduled for next week.

And one person close to the discussions said that while there was more bargaining going on than in past meetings, it remained unclear whether a deal could be sealed or if the weekend's efforts would be a bust.

The talks were guided by federal mediator John Calhoun Wells, but Herman took an active role, remaining in the hotel where they were held and periodically joining the informal discussions.

Teamsters President Ron Carey, in his only public comments since the latest sessions began, said Friday that despite all the meetings, the two parties were no closer than when they began.

"I think the company is in the room more, as well as the union," Carey said. "But it has not brought about any solution; there are no agreements that have been reached."

Carey's comments appeared to surprise the company, which called a press conference to respond and then quickly canceled it.

The sticking points have been the union's demand for more fulltime jobs at UPS, limits on subcontracting and increased wages. The union also opposes the company's plan to withdraw from the Teamsters' multi-employer pension funds.

"The only way you can win that is on the picket lines and in the community," Carey said.

Nevertheless, a Labor Department official said that overnight, the parties stopped only for short, unannounced breaks for rest, and they seemed confident that some real bargaining was going on.

Carey urged local unions to begin working with community groups to build

support for the pickets. He also announced that Thursday would be a

national day of unity, with rallies in 30 cities to involve other

working Americans in the Teamsters' fight.

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