August 25, 1997
Volume 50, No. 1
The United Parcel Service strike is over after 15 days, but Emory and its suppliers are likely to feel the pinch for the next several weeks as the shipping company regains its bearings. "We're going to have very uneven patterns at first," said a UPS spokesman.
"Things probably will not be back to normal with UPS for at least three to four weeks," said Rex Hardaway, director of procurement at Materials Services, before the strike ended. "So this is not something that goes away immediately as soon as UPS is back on the road. There's a whole backlog of I-don't-know-what sitting somewhere that is waiting to be delivered by a fully staffed UPS."
The strike couldn't have come at a more inopportune time for the University. Students and their parents routinely send parcels via UPS at the school year's beginning, and some textbook shipments for fall classes have been delayed. Patients also may be affected as flu and other vaccine deliveries are held up for several weeks.
Although the University has primary contracts with Federal Express and common carrier RPS for package delivery and shipments, its suppliers often use UPS exclusively to deliver goods.
Karen Kennington, purchasing coordinator at Emory Hospitals pharmacies, had to return a shipment of measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis vaccines last week. She feared the vaccines lost their potency after prolonged exposure to summer heat. The day before the strike ended, she was told flu vaccine delivery had been pushed back two weeks.
Professors who met the April 4 deadline for ordering fall textbooks will have their books at the beginning of the semester, said Amy Harris, textbook manager at the campus bookstore. "It's going to be the people that we've received orders from in the last two weeks who are going to be affected," she said. Harris said that about 30 percent of fall semester book orders come through her department in late July and August each year. Many of the smaller publishers from whom professors order books have UPS contracts, and other suppliers set limits on new customers for pick-up and delivery during the strike. Even Emory supplier RPS had stopped accepting next day and second day deliveries, said Harris.
UPS drivers did come to campus to deliver one or two packages every other day or so, said Harris, but they usually unload "around 75 or 80 packages" daily on campus during this time of year.
UPS is the preferred choice of parents and students sending packages to school each fall. "UPS normally carries 80 percent of the volume, and we were normally carrying about 20 percent," said Tony Cumberworth, Emory Post Office manager. "We had no idea exactly how much of that volume was going to shift from UPS to Fedex, to the post office or other common carriers. But we knew it still had to arrive here."
Cumberworth found out that Campus Life was planning to set up two trailers for student packages after the rooms they reserve annually in the Dobbs Center were unavailable. Campus Life has a special contract with UPS to deliver student packages to one central location.
Now the post office and Campus Life are working together to distribute packages in the two trailers, labeled A-L and M-Z and located in a zone 2 parking lot off Fraternity Row. Students will receive notification in their boxes of a package arrival, and they or their parents will need to show ID to pick up parcels.
"Normally at this time of year, we don't receive very many parcels," Cumberworth said before the strike's end. "We've already had about four hampers worth." He noted that parcel shipments to the post office for staff had increased by about 10 to 15 percent during the course of the strike as well. "It might slow down our delivery some during the day" until levels fall back to normal, Cumberworth said. "But we're delivering them at our normal delivery times and trying to stay on as normal [a timeframe] as possible."
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