Federal officials rejected a bid this week bid by the Teamsters union to begin a 30-day countdown to a potential strike against Sandy Springs-based UPS by the delivery company's aircraft mechanics.
A Teamsters official, David Bourne, said the union was disheartened by the decision. He said the union was prepared to return to the bargaining table, "which we hope will be later this year."
The union says it has bargained with UPS for more than four years without reaching a deal.
UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said the National Mediation Board made the decision this week, after talks between the union and the company broke down last week.
Mangeot called the union's request to have the talks declared stalemated "a tactic to put pressure on negotiations."
The union workers earn $43 an hour and don't contribute to their health benefits, Mangeot said.
If the board's mediators had agreed that the talks were at a stalemate, they could have asked both sides to agree to binding arbitration.
If either side were to then reject arbitration, it would have started a 30-day countdown until the union could legally strike.
Robert Combine, president of Teamsters Local 2727 in Louisville, Ky., said the company has made large profits since 2006 but hasn't met union demands for job security against foreign outsourcing and protection of health benefits.
"We do not wish to go out on strike, but UPS will leave us no choice if it insists on its unreasonable position," he said.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
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