Mitch McConnell is one of the most prominent political figures in the country. Here are five facts about the Kentucky senator you may not have known.
Union mechanics at UPS have turned to Sen. Mitch McConnell to ratchet up pressure amid contract talks, citing assurances from lawmakers and the shipping giant that tax reform would lead to boosted paychecks for workers — when they’ve gone four years without a salary increase.
The company gave generous raises to top executives in 2016 and employees were told last September that the legislation “would increase paychecks and deliver real relief for hardworking families,” Tim Boyle, president of Teamsters Local 2727 in Louisville, said in a Dec. 26 letter to McConnell.
“Being without a raise for four years, I’m sure you would agree it’s time to deliver the wages and benefits UPS employees deserve,” Boyle added.
McConnell’s office has received the letter and is reviewing it, spokesman Robert Steurer said in an email. It was also copied to Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville and Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican who accompanied UPS chief executive David Abney to Louisville last September when they discussed potential tax reform. The legislation passed in late December.
‘Tough’ talks ahead: Union wants new UPS worker contract to focus on health care, pension benefits
UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot described the letter to McConnell as “simply another tactic by the union and its PR agency to influence talks. The reality is, talks continue.”
Mangeot also defended the company’s investment in workers: “Since 2016 we have announced 15 projects that will add more than 14,000 Teamster jobs by the end of 2018. With tax reform, we anticipate more investment opportunities that will create more jobs, in keeping with this track record.”
Boyle wrote in the letter that AT&T, Comcast, Fifth-Third Bank, Wells Fargo and Boeing plan to raise wages and benefits immediately while UPS is asking their workers to take pay cuts and reduced benefits. “I’m hoping our members, UPS employees and your constituents can count on you to deliver the relief promised through this new legislation,” Boyle wrote, asking to meet with McConnell.
The union, which represents about 1,200 hourly mechanics and support crew work at 90 sites across the country, has complained that UPS is trying to roll back health benefits. Skilled mechanics earn $50.31 an hour, while utility workers make about $26 an hour.
The last contract expired in November 2013. By law, airline contracts, including those involving mechanics, do not expire. They become amendable and terms remain in effect while the parties bargain a new contract. To strike, federal mediators overseeing the talks would have to release the parties from bargaining before any lockout by the company or strike by workers could begin.
Mitch McConnell on tax reform: ‘You can’t guarantee every single taxpayer will get a tax cut’
A 30-day cooling off period is required to allow the sides to continue talking before a lockout or strike can be called.
The union has twice asked to be released from negotiations, but the National Mediation Board overseeing the process has not consented. Boyle emerged from a mediation board meeting in Washington Tuesday saying he thinks a release from bargaining may be the only way.
“We’re not going to have a deal until we’re allowed to go to the cooling off period,” Boyle said.
UPS is trying to avoid offering the similar benefits during separate contract bargaining this year with 250,000 Teamsters in its ground operations, Boyle said, so the company doesn’t appear to have an incentive to pay them for the mechanics.
The company and the Teamsters have negotiated five contracts in the last 28 years. They picketed at Louisville-area Amazon warehouses to call attention to their demands. The union also has hired a New York City-based public relations and strategic marketing firm Berlin Rosen to keep the pressure on UPS.
Grace Schneider: 502-582-4082; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @gesinfk. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/graces
Read or Share this story: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/money/companies/2018/01/10/tax-reform-mechanics-mitch-mcconnell/1017504001/