UPS story updated with quotes from UPS and the Teamsters. ATLANTA ( TheStreet) -- The National Mediation Board has rejected a union request to release UPS ( UPS) and its aircraft mechanics from mediation. The Teamsters union, which represents the 1,400 mechanics, asked the NMB to declare that contract talks, which have gone on for more than three years, have reached an impasse. That declaration would trigger a 30-day countdown that could result in a strike or a move to binding arbitration, if both sides agree to it. Instead, the NMB wants the two sides to remain in recess until it calls them back to negotiations.
"UPS is pleased that the NMB has denied the Teamsters' request for a release from mediation," said UPS spokesman Norman Black in a prepared statement. "Working through the NMB's well-established process, we have every reason to believe we can reach a 'win-win' agreement." David Bourne, the Teamsters Airline Division Director, called the decision "disheartening" but said in a prepared statement that "the Teamsters Airline Division is prepared to return to the table when the NMB deems it proper, which we hope will be later this year." UPS historically has not agreed to binding arbitration because "we believe we are in a better position to negotiate than a third party is," said spokesman Mike Mangeot said. In 2003, UPS negotiated a contract with its mechanics after about two years of talks, during which the NMB twice declared recesses enabling the two sides to consider their positions and then, at the board's request, to resume talking. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.