According to Teamsters Local 2727, UPS’ workforce of approximately 1,300 employees who maintain the company’s aircraft fleet filed a new request with the National Mediation Board (NMB) today asking to be released from mediated contract negotiations with the company, following close to four years of UPS refusing to bargain fairly on a new contract with its aircraft mechanics and related classifications.
The workers, represented by Teamsters Local 2727, first requested to be released from mediated negotiations earlier this year. Since then, UPS has refused to bargain fairly or offer reasonable proposals to come to a fair agreement, causing growing unrest and instability within the maintenance workforce as the busy holiday shipping season nears.
Mark Schupp is a Local 2727 member based in Louisville who has been with UPS for almost ten years.
“UPS isn’t taking the negotiating process seriously, and we’ve had enough,” Schupp said. “You’d think before peak flying season UPS would want to make sure its operation is in the best position for success, but instead the company’s executives are pushing their entire aircraft maintenance workforce closer and closer to going on strike.”
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division Director David Bourne delivered the request to the NMB. He also advised the NMB that Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa has pledged his and the International Union’s full support of the mechanics’ request.
The request states that additional mediation will only “drain the limited, taxpayer-funded resources of the NMB and the likewise limited resources of the union, all while UPS simply plays the waiting game and continues to reap year after year of record profits.”
In response to the request, the NMB may offer the mechanics and UPS the opportunity to let a neutral third-party arbitrator decide remaining contract issues. If either the union or the company refuses to arbitrate the dispute, a 30-day “cooling off” period would be triggered, and the mechanics could then be free to strike anytime after the period ends.
“We’ve offered commonsense proposal after proposal and have only seen costly corporate maneuvers from UPS in return,” said Tim Boyle, President of Teamsters Local 2727. “All UPS aircraft maintenance workers want is to keep the benefits we already have so we can stay healthy and continue to keep UPS planes running effectively. We are sick of UPS’ attacks on our health and our middle-class jobs. We are ready to do whatever it takes to stand up for our families.”
The request to the NMB goes on to say that “UPS has over $60 Billion in revenues each year and can easily bargain for years with no adverse consequences. The only parties who will suffer as a result of continued mediation are the hard-working, middle-class mechanics and related employees who have seen their wages frozen for four years as they fight to maintain the health insurance they currently enjoy.”
Teamsters Local 2727 said that “UPS crushed earnings estimates and made billions in revenue for the second quarter of 2017 in large part due to the back-breaking work of its aircraft mechanics. In 2016, the company posted $3.4 billion in profits and announced multimillion-dollar raises for top executives. While the company brings in record profits, it continues to delay contract negotiations with its aircraft maintenance workforce. UPS is also calling for devastating concessions in health benefits for current workers and retirees who spent their lives repairing the company’s planes. Under UPS’ proposal, health coverage for a retiree and his or her spouse would skyrocket to more than $19,000 per year in the first year with further increases each year thereafter”.
“After years of contract delays, the aircraft mechanics and related classifications have grown frustrated with UPS”.
This summer, dozens of UPS aircraft maintenance workers protested outside one of the company’s largest air hubs in Ontario, Calif., calling for UPS to get serious about negotiations and settle a fair contract that protects their basic health benefits. In May, more than 900 of the mechanics sent an open letter to UPS CEO David Abney and the board of directors. The letter cited concerns about UPS’ attempt to strip them of their health benefits and stated that they will do whatever it takes to secure a fair contract. UPS mechanics also protested at UPS’ annual shareholder meeting in Wilmington, Del., handing attendees an expanded version of the letter to the CEO and board of directors. In late 2016, they voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike should it become necessary.
UPS issued the following statement concerning teamsters local 2727’s request to be released from national mediation board oversight for contract negotiations:
“UPS continues to negotiate in good faith for a mutually agreeable contract with Teamsters Local 2727, who represent our aircraft mechanics. The Company has made several generous offers that include industry-leading wage rates, pension and 401(k) programs, and the option of premium-free healthcare or remaining in their current plan with minimal cost-sharing. The total compensation and benefits offer is industry-leading, generous and fair. It is in line with UPS’s commitment to reward employees for their contributions to the company’s success.
“Local 2727 leaders are turning to inflammatory and exaggerated public claims that misrepresent the Company’s offers. These erroneous claims about company wage and benefit offers mislead employees and needlessly raise customer concerns in a misguided effort to influence company negotiators.
“The Union’s claim of a bargaining impasse is factually baseless. Working under the direction of the National Mediation Board, UPS and Local 2727 negotiators have agreed on virtually all non-economic issues and have moved closer on several economic issues within the framework of a total contract package.
“In recent bargaining meetings, the parties have discussed contract economics, including wage increases, retirement security, retroactive bonus payments and generous healthcare benefits. UPS has recently made two alternative economic offers that contain significant gains in total compensation for our mechanics.
“The Union’s request to be released from mediation is another attempt to side-step NMB oversight and short circuit the bargaining process. Instead of issuing press releases and seeking media attention, Local 2727 needs to return to the bargaining table and finalize a tentative agreement.
“We remain confident that the NMB’s mediation process will result in an agreement that’s good for UPS, our mechanics and our stakeholders. We encourage the NMB to return the parties to the bargaining table for further discussions”.