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Air cargo: NMB rejects request by Teamsters to release UPS mechanics from negotiations

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
June 03, 2010

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional information. It originally appeared on on June 2.

The National Mediation Board, an independent United States Government agency that coordinates labor-management relations within the U.S. railroad and airline sectors, recently rejected a request made by the Teamsters Airline Division to be released by contract negotiations.

The Teamsters had requested that its Local 2727 that represents UPS aircraft mechanics be released from contract negotiations, which have been ongoing without a contract for more than four years.

In a notice sent to UPS and the Teamsters, the NMB said that the record of the negotiations to date demonstrates a release is not in order at this time, adding that the decision means that UPS and Local 2727 remain in recess subject to the mediator’s call back to the negotiating table.

“UPS is pleased that the NMB has denied the Teamsters’ request for a release from mediation because we believe the company and union can reach an agreement through on-going negotiations,” UPS said in a statement. “It is important to remember that our mechanics already have the best jobs in their industry and we are offering to enhance their position.  We are ready to finalize a contract that rewards our employees while allowing us to remain competitive.  We look forward to returning to the table.”

Robert Combine, UPS aircraft mechanic and President of Teamsters Local 2727, said in a statement that UPS’ aircraft mechanics simply want a fair agreement that recognizes they have been without a new contract since 2006.
“Our Company has made substantial profits since 2006, even considering the economic downturn last year; yet UPS has been unwilling to make a reasonable settlement offer, especially on the questions of job security for our members against foreign outsourcing and protecting our health benefits,” he said. “The IBT has put forward a reasonable proposal to serve as a basis for final settlement, but UPS has refused to do the same.”
The Teamsters added that under the terms of the Railway Labor Act, the IBT has requested that the National Mediation Board release UPS and its aircraft mechanics from mediation and make a proffer of binding arbitration. And either party may reject that offer of arbitration, which would then trigger a 30-day “cooling off” period countdown to a potential strike. More than 200,000 UPS employees are Teamsters members.
UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot told LM that UPS believes it will be able to reach a mutually favorable agreement with its aircraft mechanics through the NMB supervised contract negotiations.

“Our contract talks remain on recess—a common NMB tactic to bring parties closer together—but when they resume, we will continue to negotiate in good faith for an agreement that rewards our mechanics and protects our competitive position,” he said. “In the meantime, our customers remain in good hands with UPS.

And in an Associated Press report, Mangeot called the union’s request to have the talks declared stalemated “a tactic to put pressure on negotiations,” according to the AP, and he also said that the union workers earn $43 an hour and don’t contribute to their health benefits.

About the Author

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Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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