Teamsters ask feds for UPS strike countdown

DALLAS — United Parcel Service Inc. says federal officials have rejected a request by the Teamsters union to begin a 30-day countdown to a potential strike by aircraft mechanics.

UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said the National Mediation Board told the company of its decision Tuesday. The union’s airline division had asked the board Friday to declare the talks stalemated.

Teamsters officials did not immediately return messages for comment.

The union says it has bargained with UPS for more than four years without reaching a deal.

If the board’s mediators had agreed that the talks were at a stalemate, they could have asked both sides to agree to binding arbitration.

If either side were to reject arbitration, it would start a 30-day countdown until the union could legally strike.

Robert Combine, president of Teamsters Local 2727 in Louisville, Ky., said the company has made large profits since 2006 but hasn’t met union demands for job security against foreign outsourcing and protection of health benefits.

Combine said the aircraft mechanics voted overwhelmingly for a strike if the company failed to make a reasonable contract offer.

“We do not wish to go out on strike, but UPS will leave us no choice if it insists on its unreasonable position,” he said.

Mangeot, the UPS spokesman, called the union’s request to have the talks declared stalemated “a tactic to put pressure on negotiations.”

The union workers earn $43 an hour and don’t contribute to their health benefits, Mangeot said.

UPS shares fell $1.59, or 2.5 percent, to $61.17 on Tuesday.
The Associated Press