UPS pilots grant strike authorization

UPS pilots will continue flying for now, but the possibility of a strike is looming on the horizon.

UPS pilots will continue flying for now, but the possibility of a strike is looming on the horizon.

No, UPS pilots have not voted to strike.

But they did vote – overwhelmingly – to give the Executive Board of the Independent Pilots Union (IPA) authority to “formally request a release from federally mediated negotiations with UPS, and the discretion to conduct a strike once mediation is concluded.”

Pilots unions at both UPS and FedEx began negotiating new contracts with their respective companies in 2011. Two months ago, in late August 2015, the leadership of the FedEx unit of the Air Line Pilots Association reached a tentative six-year agreement with the company. Early this week, on 20 October, the FedEx pilots approved the contract and FedEx can now prepare for the upcoming peak season without worrying about a disruptive strike.

Things have not gone as smoothly at UPS, and this morning the Independent Pilots Association announced that the company’s pilots had voted 2,252 to 8 to authorize the five-pilot IPA Executive Board to initiate strike action if they so decide. This IPA announcement follows yesterday’s announcement by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (which represents about 250,000 non-pilot employees at UPS) that its members would not cross pilot picket lines, should the pilots strike.

We reiterate that the vote was not “for a strike,” and also point out that, since the negotiations are currently taking place under federal mediation, a strike cannot take place until the mediator releases the two parties from negotiation. But the possibility of a strike is now very real.

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