WASHINGTON -- The Teamsters union has begun demonstrating at Federal Reserve banks, complaining that a contractor is paying illegally low wages and the Fed has done nothing about it.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has picketed Federal Reserve offices in Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Union spokesman Bart Naylot said the union wants the central bank's inspector general to research Pony Express Corp., a Charlotte, N.C.-based company that transports checks across the country for the Fed.

Mr. Naylor said federal law requires the central bank to ensure that employees who work for contractors receive the prevailing wage, something that he said is not occurring at Pony Express. The union also has security concerns, particularly about the vehicles used to transport checks.

"We'd like the Fed to investigate compliance with the Service Contract Act and basic security," Mr. Naylor said.

Mr. Naylor said the union plans 19 give the central bank several weeks to investigate the charges before deciding what action to take next.

The Fed referred all questions to Inspector General Brent Bowen, who was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Pony Express issued a statement denying that it engaged in unfair labor practices.

"We are bargaining in good faith and have. acted reasonably in negotiating with Teamster representatives," company president Bob Moree said in the statement.

The union received some support earlier this summer when House Banking Committee Chairman Henry B. Gonzalez sent a letter to the Fed outlining the union's complaint.

Laxity on Safety Alleged

On the security side, the Texas Democrat said his committee discovered. that Pony Express left checks overnight in unlocked vehicles and it employed an alleged bank robber.

On the labor front, Rep. Gonzalez said the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Pony Express because the company is not bargaining in good faith.

A labor board attorney confirmed the complaint, saying the board has brought before administrative law judges charges that Pony Express failed to meet with the union at reasonable times.

Rep. Gonzalez has asked the Fed to provide information of all the courier services it uses.

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