(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) – The union representing airline maintenance technicians and related classifications who maintain UPS’ fleet of jet engine aircraft filed for injunctive relief after the company has repeatedly failed to protect workers’ safety on the job.
The complaint, filed Nov. 23 in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Kentucky, calls on UPS to immediately halt the use of more than 100 lifts that allow workers to reach the mechanical components of the aircraft and rise up to 25 feet from the ground. The complaint states: “All employees who work on the damaged lifts face an imminent risk of severe injury or death.”
The request for injunctive relief comes after Teamsters Local 2727 has repeatedly raised concerns about malfunctioning lifts and truck booms that have dropped workers on multiple occasions, including one incident that left an employee with a broken pelvis and leg, directly with the company and with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“The issues the maintenance technicians and related staff are raising are serious and potentially deadly. As UPS adds more planes to its fleets and more routes to accommodate the busy holiday season, these threats become even more serious,” said Tim Boyle, President of Local 2727.
Earlier this month a 19-foot lift collapsed while a member of Local 2727 was working on the left wing of a 767. While he narrowly missed grave injury, this was not the first time these issues have been raised with UPS. The union filed OSHA complaints at the state and federal level concerning lift safety in November and documented injuries related to the lifts date back more than two years.
“We keep UPS aircraft safe and running on time; we contribute every day in a big way to the success and growth of this company; in return, at the minimum we expect our health and safety to be a priority for UPS,” said Rusty Stephens, the Local 2727 Safety Chairman and a 27-year aircraft mechanic at UPS’ Des Moines, Iowa hub.
This week, health and safety issues expanded to include concerns at the Lafayette, Louisiana gateway where workers are exposed to mold, vermin and a failing physical plant. In a separate complaint filed with OSHA Nov. 28, the union describes working conditions that include moldy, rotten floors, exposed wiring, a leaking roof and raccoons that have fallen through the ceiling. The complaint states that mechanical staff is “entitled to working conditions that do not pose a risk of harm.”
Many UPS gateways operate with just one aircraft mechanic per shift, meaning he or she works alone around massive aircraft parts and equipment, sometimes for up to 39 hours straight. Lifting injuries and accidents are common. Repetitive stress injuries, hearing loss, inhaling toxic exhaust, and jet engine blasts are among other health risks UPS aircraft maintenance workers face.
UPS announced earlier this month that it beat third quarter earnings expectations with revenue of more than $14.9 billion. UPS will ship some 700 million packages this holiday shopping season. The company also announced plans to purchase 14 jumbo aircraft from Boeing Co. between 2017 and 2020—the first such order by UPS since 2008. The 14 Boeing 747-8s cost a total of $5.3 billion before discounts that may have been negotiated.
UPS, the world’s largest delivery company, posted $4.84 billion in profits last year. In September, UPS announced additional stock incentives and 10 percent raises for its top executives: Chairman and CEO David P. Abney, Senior Vice President and CFO Richard N. Peretz, CCO Alan Gershenhorn and President of U.S. Operations Myron A. Gray.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit www.teamster.org.