UPS aircraft mechanics hold a protest outside a UPS Store in Atlanta on Tuesday as they push to keep their level of health benefits in contract negotiations. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

UPS aircraft mechanics picket over contract negotiations

UPS aircraft mechanics from around the country picketed in front of a Buckhead UPS Store over their contract negotiations, saying they’re concerned about losing some of their healthcare benefits.

About 30 aircraft mechanics participated in the protest on Tuesday, and another protest is planned at the company’s annual shareholders meeting to be held in Wilmington, Del. on Thursday.

The mechanics are covered by health insurance with no annual contribution.

“We just want to maintain what we’ve got,” said Teamsters Local 2727 president Tim Boyle, which represents the 1,200 aircraft mechanics spread across different airports where UPS planes operate.Boyle pointed to UPS CEO David Abney’s 20 percent pay raise last year to $13.7 million in total compensation for 2016. “We’re in great times right now. There’s no reason for any concessions,” Boyle said.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said in a written statement: “We believe our mechanics are good people who do a good job of keeping our aircraft flying safely and reliably, and UPS continues to negotiate in good faith,” and are “confident that we will reach a mutually agreeable contract, just as we have in all previous mechanic negotiations.”

The contract negotiations have been going on for more than three years.

The union last year took a strike authorization vote and filed a request with the National Mediation Board for a release from federally-mediated negotiations and requesting permission to strike. But the National Mediation Board sent them back to the bargaining table and talks are scheduled to resume May 11-12, Boyle said.

More about UPS:

UPS tests a delivery drone deployed from a truck in Lithia, Fla. on Feb. 20, 2017.

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