Even as UPS and mechanics spread around 80 U.S. airports prepare for their next round of federally mediated contract negotiations, a union vote to authorize a strike shows the mechanics are running out of patience.
The union has 1,400 U.S. mechanics, who service the UPS worldwide fleet of 263 cargo aircraft, Reuters reported. Its main air hub is in Louisville, Ky.
The two sides have been in negotiations for nearly three years, and the union move comes as the huge parcel firm heads into its busiest shipping season that peaks at Christmas.
Since their contract dispute is in the hands of the National Mediation Board, which handles both airline and railroad labor matters under the Railway Labor Act, UPS officials say the union vote has no actual impact.
Typically, the NMB keeps both sides in negotiations and even if they are too far apart it can suspend its process for months at a time. Even if the NMB declared an impasse and released mechanics to strike and UPS to take protective actions such as a lockout, the law requires them to first wait out a 30-day “cooling off” period.
Still, Teamster mechanics officials thought the vote strengthened their hand, by giving union negotiators the power to seek release from the talks and trigger a strike countdown without first going back to the rank and file members for a vote.
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