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Two UPS workers cross Medford picket line

Two local United Parcel Service pickets returned to work Monday, butother striking UPS workers said that doesn't represent a crack in the strikeor a drop in morale.

A full-time driver and a part-time worker crossed the picket line; neitherwas available for comment Monday. A UPS staffer at the UPS depot on MasonWay in Medford said both workers were delivering packages all day.

UPS administrators could not be reached for comment Monday.

But pickets across the street from the depot said the loss of two picketsfrom their ranks didn't amount to much.

It's always the strong supporting the weak, said Brian King,a UPS driver from Eugene.

King was part of a delegation of Eugene strikers that visited the Medfordpickets Monday to share their experiences and boost morale.

More than 80 local UPS employees stayed away from work Monday for the15th straight day, said Jan Chambers, office manager and business agentfor Teamsters Local 962 in Medford.

Their complaints focus on UPS' pension plan and its treatment of part-timeworkers who, pickets say, actually work full-time hours.

The strike is taking a toll on the pickets, Chambers said. The unionpays each picket $55 a week in strike wages, she said, but many picketshave had to find temporary work or do odd jobs to support themselves.

The two workers who returned Monday were the only losses in Medford,she said. Other cities ­ such as Roseburg ­ have seen as many asfive or 10 pickets return.

Nerves are getting on edge, she said. They're gettingtired and they'd rather be working. But everybody is doing a good job.

Chambers said morale is still high in Medford, and she doesn't expectany other pickets to cross the line before an agreement is reached and approved.

That could be weeks or months, or it could be tomorrow.

Talks between the union and UPS resumed Monday after breaking off inconclusivelySunday. President Clinton asked both sides to redouble their effortsto end the strike.

They're talking, Chambers said. There's always hopewhen they're talking. I have a feeling that something is being resolved.

Pickets also seemed hopeful Monday that the talks were moving in theright direction but said they're willing to stay on the picket line as longas it takes to have their concerns answered.

Peter Van Middlesworth, a Medford driver, said he already knows how longhe'll fight this battle:

One day longer than (UPS). That's all it takes.

Cynthoni Fairhart, a part-time Medford worker, said most of the picketswould probably stay away from UPS for the duration of the strike.

She said she wasn't too concerned about the two workers who crossed theline hurting morale or inviting others to abandon the strike.

But there might be morale problems after the strike, she said.

You know you're going to have to work with them later, shesaid. You don't want to be hateful, but they kind of knifed you.''

Members of Teamsters in Eugene dropped by to greet UPS workers in Medford Monday. They drove up in a mock UPS truck they created to help call attention to the strike. - Photo by Jim Craven</P