Aircraft maintenance workers at United Parcel Service have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, a move that could wreak havoc with shipments.

Employees of Teamsters Local 2727 announced Monday that they voted to authorize the action after three years of negotiations, during which UPS has continued to demand health care concessions and a major increase in retiree employment costs.

A strike would likely not happen during the holidays, when the company is expected to ship some 700 million packages, as labor negotiations would probably still be ongoing.

Eighty percent – or 950 of the company’s 1,200 maintenance employees – participated in the strike vote, and 98 percent of those workers voted in favor of a strike. The Local 2727 workers voted in October and November by mail-in ballot.

UPS, the union said, is calling for a massive reduction in benefits for retirees. Under the company’s proposal, health coverage for a retiree and his or her spouse would skyrocket from around $3,600 annually to more than $19,000 per year in the first year with further increases each year beyond that, according to Local 2727 President Tim Boyle.

Mike Mangeot, a spokesman for UPS Airlines, declined to respond.

“Benefits are a subject of discussions at the bargaining table, and we believe those discussions are best left there,” he said via email.

“No one wants to strike, but UPS is refusing to work with us,” Boyle said. “If there’s no movement by the end of the week we’ll ask the mediator to release us and then there will be a 30-day cooling-off period. During that time both parties will try to reach an agreement.”

If there still is no agreement after that, Boyle said, the dispute would go to a Presidential Emergency Board for review for another 30 days.

If nothing comes of that, he said, workers are prepared to strike.

That would have a big effect on the massive warehouse and logistics facilities that operate in the Inland region.

Amazon, for example, has fulfillment operations in Moreno Valley, Redlands and Rialto as well as another two in San Bernardino. Another fulfillment center was announced in May for Eastvale, and QVC’s 1 million-square-foot West Coast distribution center opened in August.

During its 28-year history, UPS Airlines has successfully negotiated five contracts with its mechanics.

UPS is the world’s largest delivery company. It posted $4.84 billion in profit last year and announced additional stock incentives and 10 percent raises for its top executives.


(Originally posted by Kevin Smith on OC Register-