Thursday, September 10, 2015

UPS pilot union urges members to authorize strike

UPS Boeing 767-34AF(ER) (37867/1006) N345UP smokes the mains on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on August 12, 2014.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Leaders of UPS Airlines’ pilot union, the Independent Pilots Association (IPA), have asked its members to vote in favor of authorizing a strike.

According to a press statement from the IPA, its leadership would be able to request a release from negotiations—now under government mediation—if members approve the measure. The union, which represents more than 2,500 pilots, will release results of the vote Oct. 23.
IPA president Robert Travis said that while a strike is the “least desirable outcome” of labor negotiations, the vote announcement comes after four years of contract talks.
“UPS has stalled and delayed, unnecessarily prolonging our negotiations,” Travis said. “UPS management has created a bitter standoff with its pilot employees,” he said, noting that its main competitor FedEx recently reached a tentative agreement with its pilots. The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents those FedEx pilots, announced last month that the voting period for that contract will run between Sept. 28 and Oct. 20.

UPS said it continues to negotiate “in good faith,” and that it is confident negotiations will conclude without service disruptions.

“Despite the IPA’s announcement, there is no real threat of a strike,” UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said. “Such authorization votes are routine during negotiations in the airline industry, but they are legally irrelevant under the Railway Labor Act, the US labor law that governs airlines.”

Under those laws, a strike would not be possible unless authorized by the National Mediation Board, UPS said. “Even then, there are a series of fail-safes, including presidential and congressional intervention, designed to prevent an interruption in operations.”

The contract became amendable at the end of 2011, said IPA spokesman Brian Gaudet. Negotiations began in August of that year, and the National Mediation Board began overseeing the talks in February 2014.

(Kristin Majcher - ATWOnline News)

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