Strike prompts charity review Casey Foundation worries UPS dispute to affect disadvantaged; Philanthropy


United Parcel Service strikers and businesses that rely on UPS are not the only ones nervously awaiting the outcome of the company's labor dispute with the Teamsters, now in its 13th day.

In Baltimore, from a third-floor office on St. Paul Street, Douglas W. Nelson has carefully reviewed what the strike could mean to countless disadvantaged children and families nationwide who get help from The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Baltimore-based philanthropy has 58 percent of its $1.28 billion holdings in UPS -- from which it derives nearly one-third of its income.

"The strike really does have us concerned," Nelson, the organization's president, said yesterday from Casey headquarters overlooking the Mount Vernon neighborhood. "We hope it's over fast and that it doesn't do irreparable harm to the economy as a whole, or the interests of the working people on strike, or the company. We have a strong interest to see this end without any long-term damage to UPS."

For now -- and for the foreseeable future, Nelson said -- the Teamsters' strike hasn't hurt the foundation's ability to fund its $94 million budget this year or next year's $100 million budget. Before the strike, the foundation had projected $30 million in annual dividends from its UPS stock.

But the dispute has forced the Casey Foundation to take a hard look at its finances.

Over the past 30 years, Nelson said, UPS stock has "generated predictable and healthy returns and has appreciated as an asset and has allowed us to grow from a small-service support agency."

Once almost completely funded by its investment in UPS, the foundation began diversifying its holdings seven years ago -- which has left it better prepared if the strike drags on. If necessary, Nelson said, Casey could liquidate holdings in its managed funds.

Also, UPS stock, which is not publicly traded, tends to be less volatile than would a publicly traded stock of a company in a labor dispute, Nelson said.

Ties to UPS go way back: the package delivery company's founder, Jim Casey, started the foundation 49 years ago and bequeathed most of his estate to it when he died in 1983. Now, foundation holdings represent a 4.6 percent share of UPS stock.

The foundation, which at its inception funded a camp for disadvantaged children and ran foster care programs, has grown into a $1.28 billion organization that primarily offers grants to help needy families and children in 50 states.

In what it hopes will become a national model, Casey has started a $10 million grant program in six cities to link unemployed, inner-city residents with jobs, by improving transportation, job training and employer awareness.

In East Baltimore, the foundation operates a community center for teen-age mothers. Since moving its headquarters from Greenwich, Conn., to Baltimore three years ago, the foundation has given grants to 75 community-based groups that offer after-school care, summer camps or services to families in crises.

Some 185,000 UPS workers have been on strike since Aug. 4, demanding more full-time jobs for some of the company's many part-time workers.

Yesterday, management and the union stepped up negotiations, while union President Ron Carey announced plans for rallies nationwide next week.

The contract talks had stalled primarily because the union and management both want control of pensions for the striking workers. Pensions cost the nation's largest package delivery company $1.1 billion a year, but UPS has little control over them.

Pub Date: 8/16/97

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