A COMMON OBJECTIVE

A COMMON OBJECTIVE

In addition to providing an infusion of capital, United Parcel Service's initial public offering should go far toward cementing the gains in its labor-relations climate.

Relations hit a low point in August 1997 with a 15-day Teamsters strike. Pay raises, bigger company contributions to benefit plans and two years of labor peace have improved things, though the union is still pressing the company to fulfill its pledge to hire more full-time drivers.But last week's $5.5 billion IPO benefitted thousands of ordinary UPS employees. Their individual holdings may not be big by Wall Street standards, but they're rapidly gaining value: UPS sold the stock in the IPO Wednesday at $50 per share, and by the end of Thursday shares were going for $74.

''This is beyond my wildest imagination; it's been great,'' Roger Stamper, a UPS driver in Boston, told The Associated Press. ''I love the company and I'm just happy things worked out the way they did.''

A tangible stake in the future of one's employer may not solve all problems. But it helps keep all eyes in the company turned toward a common goal.