Contract negotiations reach boiling point between UPS and aircra - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Contract negotiations reach boiling point between UPS and aircraft mechanics

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After years of bargaining between UPS and the aircraft mechanics, contract negotiations in Washington, D.C. have reached a boiling point this week.

“We work on airplanes that fly over your schools, parks, shopping centers, over you stadiums, and it's important to make sure those are fixed right,” UPS Aircraft Mechanic union worker Ralph Neopolitan said.

He says it's a dangerous job between the physical demands and exposure to toxins like jet fuel and jet fumes.

“But the main thing is the injuries we get sometimes,” Neopolitan said.

He is worried, along with the other estimated 12,000 people in his union, about the cost of his healthcare, especially once he retires. He says UPS is proposing an increase to healthcare costs for families by as much as 430 percent in just the first year of the new contract. He'd like to keep the healthcare he already has.

“We're not asking for anything out of the ordinary," he said. "We've had this healthcare for the past 20 years."

UPS did not want to go on camera, but in a statement to WDRB says:

"This release is merely an attempt to influence ongoing contract negotiations between UPS and our aircraft mechanics. The reality is, UPS Airlines places the highest emphasis on safety, and no employee has been assigned to work in an unsafe environment. Our exacting safety standards meet and often exceed government regulations.

UPS does a great job of taking care of our aircraft mechanics, who enjoy annual wages in excess of $100,000, a robust pension plan, and premium-free health benefits. We believe negotiations are best left at the table, so we won't discuss the specifics of talks. UPS continues to negotiate in good faith for an agreement that is good for our mechanics and the company."

“UPS does give us the safety equipment we need, but still things happen,” Neopolitan said.

There is a long process of checks and balances that will need to take place before a strike could go into effect, but union workers say they’re not afraid to take action.  

The union will take a vote from its members on Oct. 21, but the National Mediation Board has the final say whether a strike is allowed. UPS says there are more talks scheduled through the end of the year. 

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