By Ben Meyer / www.americanshipper.com / October 23rd, 2015
UPS pilots represented by the Independent Pilots Association voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike against their employer, according to a statement from IPA.
The pilots voted 2,252 to 8 to authorize a strike against United Parcel Service, with just under 97 percent of members participating.
The IPA Executive Board, which consists of five pilot representatives, now has the authority to formally request a release from federally mediated negotiations with UPS, and the discretion to conduct a strike once mediation is concluded.
“UPS promises its customers on-time delivery, but after four years of labor negotiations, the company has failed to deliver a contract for its own pilots,” IPA President Captain Robert Travis said in a statement. “In a clear voice, UPS pilots have said they are willing to strike if necessary to finish the job.”
The strike would affect roughly 2,500 UPS pilots and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James Hoffa has pledged the support of 250,000 UPS Teamster co-workers. Hoffa and Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall wrote in a letter to Travis, “if a strike is necessary, we will not cross your lines, but will stand with you on them.”
"UPS has continued to stall and drag its feet in completing an agreement with you and your hardworking members,” wrote Hoffa and Hall. “Four years to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement is simply unacceptable…the Teamsters Union will stand with you in whatever decisions your members make."
Travis said his group welcomes the support of the Teamsters union.
“The employees of UPS make our company strong and productive. Management is playing a risky game using ‘stall and delay’ tactics against its own people. Meanwhile, FedEx is delivering on-time,” he said.
UPS, for its part, continues to negotiate in good faith and believes an agreement can be reached without disruption to service, as it has done in four previous contracts, according to a statement provided by UPS Airlines.
The company noted that these types of labor talks can take years to complete because of their complexity and the safeguards required under the Railway Labor Act. The strike authorization vote, according to UPS, is a symbolic gesture because the National Mediation Board controls negotiations and a strike is not possible with its permission.
Strike votes are a common tactic in airline negotiations and are usually scripted and procedural in nature.
“As we head into our busy peak season, UPS customers can rest assured their shipments are in good hands. UPS Airlines continues to operate a safe, on-time air express network. Any discussion of holiday disruptions is negotiations posturing,” the UPS statement said.
UPS noted that captains make a minimum compensation of $255,128 annually, and typically earn about $35,000 more than that, compared to $230,379 at rival FedEx, which just agreed to a new labor contract with its pilots earlier this week. The average pay for all pilots is $238,000.
The median wage for a U.S. commercial airline pilot is $98,410, according to the most current Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Crewmembers are eligible for two company-funded retirement plans and a traditional 401 (k). In addition, UPS works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure safety and apply rest rules that are already more strict than the FAA's, the company said.
Despite the strike announcement, UPS said it is confident these negotiations will be completed without service disruption and that there is no real threat of a strike, which is not possible under the RLA unless authorized by the National Mediation Board. Even then, there is a series of fail-safes, which include presidential and congressional intervention, to prevent a strike from taking place.
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