The United Parcel Service strike forced plastics machinery makers to scramble, causing some disruption in shipping spare parts, but machinery officials are breathing easier now that the 15-day walkout has ended.
The Teamsters union and UPS reached a tentative agreement Aug. 18 that was subject to final approval by two Teamster committees.
``It's good news to us,'' said Gary Kelley, project manager who handles shipping at Linden Industries Inc.-EMB, a company that makes polyurethane processing equipment in Peninsula, Ohio. But Kelley, like other shipping officials at machinery makers interviewed Aug. 19, still was waiting for final details before celebrating.
``Right now we're just in a holding pattern. We're going on the way we did during the strike, until we see a brown truck pull up to our door.''
Those brown UPS trucks were idled for 15 days by the strike by 185,000 union members.
Machinery makers had to prioritize spare parts shipments and find other carriers to deliver machine parts to customers. But most alternate carriers, including Federal Express, limited the number of packages they could accept.
At Bekum America Corp., a blow molding machinery maker in Williamston, Mich., the strike made it ``more difficult to promptly respond to customer orders, although we have adapted,'' said Bill Bisard, spare parts supervisor.
Cincinnati Milacron Inc. ships several hundred packages a day out of its Plastics Machinery Group headquarters in Batavia, Ohio. ``Federal Express is only taking about 10 percent more than they would take before the UPS strike,'' said Steve Hayden, manager of service parts.
Hayden said Milacron took steps before the strike actually began to keep deliveries going. When UPS announced that a strike was possible, Milacron found other ways to ship emergency parts.
``We've been using all the carriers we can'' including the U.S. Postal Service, he said.
Delivering spare parts was an obvious problem. But some machinery builders experienced delays getting components needed to build new machines.
Kelley, at Linden Industries, said the strike ``delayed building of machines because of us not going to be able to get parts.''
Meanwhile, UPS is likely to lose some business from the strike. Once the strike was over, Hayden said Milacron was planning to meet with Emery Worldwide ``to see how we can give them more business.''
Hayden said Emery ``did everything they could to help us'' during the UPS strike, by placing no limits on the amount of packages shipped and continuing to guarantee next-day delivery.