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Mechanics threaten UPS strike

LOUISVILLE, KY: November 14, 2016. Maintenance workers at UPS Airlines have voted to strike after three years of unsuccessful negotiations. The mechanics say the company wants to reduce their health and retiree benefits.

Last month some 80 percent or 950 of the company's 1,200 Teamsters' members participated in a mail-in ballot and 98 percent voted in favor of a strike following the picketing of an Amazon distribution center in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

UPS mechanics"Dedicated aircraft maintenance workers are simply asking to keep the benefits they already have so they can keep UPS planes running effectively," said Tim Boyle, president of Teamsters Local 2727. "No one wants to strike, but members voted overwhelming to authorize a strike because UPS is refusing to work with us. We'll do whatever it takes to protect good, middle class jobs, our health and our families."

UPS responded saying: "It's important to understand that the vote does not give Local 2727 the right to strike under U.S. labor law.

"A strike is not possible unless authorized by the National Mediation Board. The vote is simply a routine show of solidarity common in many negotiations.

"The reality is, talks continue to progress under the control of the National Mediation Board. UPS continues to negotiate in good faith for a contract that is good for our employees, our customers and our company.

"We are confident talks will be completed successfully, just as they have during all previous negotiations with our mechanics," it concluded.

UPS pilots have also expressed "solidarity" for the proposed action. In a letter, Independent Pilot Association president Robert Travis said: "Please be assured that you have the full support of the 2,600 professional airline pilots who fly worldwide for UPS."

Last month UPS reported a year-on-year rise of 4.5 percent in net profit to US$3.67 billion for the first nine months of 2016. Revenue rose 3.9 percent to US$43.97 billion in the same period. For the third quarter ending September 30, the company saw net profit rise to US$1.27 billion compared to the same period last year on a 4.9 percent increase in revenue to US$14.9 billion.

The company has also ordered 14 B747-8s from Boeing for delivery between 2017 and 2020. The value of the contract, which includes options for 14 additional aircraft, was not disclosed.

"We're glad that UPS can afford to invest in beefing up its international fleet," said Jim Kelley, a 29-year aircraft mechanic at UPS's Louisville, KY gateway. "But if UPS can afford major capital investments and huge raises for top brass, then UPS can also choose to invest in the maintenance workers who do strenuous and dangerous work every day to make its success possible.

"No one wants to go on strike, but I voted to strike because UPS mechanics and our families deserve better from UPS," he added.

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