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Some firms seek deliverance from strike threat uncertainty

August 01, 1997

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

The threat of a United Parcel Service strike had some Tri-State area businesses scrambling to find other ways of getting their products to their customers.

Although UPS trucks were still rolling, company warnings about possible shipping delays led some people to put off mailing packages with the delivery giant.

"Anybody who does a lot of shipping, obviously they have to be concerned," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Development Corp.

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On Friday, Hub Labels Inc. was investigating other ways to ship its pressure-sensitive labels, said owner Mary Dahbura. Normally, 90 percent of its 250-parcels a day are handled by UPS.

Lawson Brass Instruments Inc. near Boonsboro makes a point of using UPS because it offers full insurance on the expensive musical instruments.

"We're holding shipments right now 'til something shakes out. Unfortunately, customers are mad and we're mad," said Bruce Lawson, engineer and secretary.

Mail Boxes Etc. in Hagerstown saw a dropoff in the number of people mailing packages, said Manager Cara Miles. Those with urgent packages were using Federal Express, she said.

Boat America Corp. north of Hagerstown does a tractor-trailer load of business with UPS every day, said General Manager Jim Firth.

The company was still taking phone orders Friday from nationwide customers of its boat equipment supplies.

However, Boat America was encouraging customers to use the U.S. Postal Service or Federal Express, competitors he said are "hungry for the business."

The situation could be worse.

"If this would be happening in April or May we'd be more concerned," he said.

Stationary House Inc. in Hagerstown ships about 350 packages a day via UPS, said Production Manager Dale Schuch.

While it hasn't been too much of a problem yet, he is concerned that other carriers wouldn't be able to handle the load if the Teamsters at UPS go on strike.

"I hope that it gets resolved so the customers won't be affected," he said.

Theatre Effects Inc. of Hagerstown has so far delayed shipping only one package, said owner Nathan Kahn, who is confident that a contract will be reached before a strike.

"It stands to reason it's going to go down to the wire," he said.

Others also expect the dispute over increases in pay and pensions to be resolved over the weekend.

"I'm pretty optimistic we'll come back on Monday and this will be resolved," Firth said.

The contract covering the two-thirds of the delivery giant's 302,000 employees expired at midnight on Thursday. Negotiations between UPS and the Teamsters union continued on Friday.

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