UPS pilots' union to vote on potential strike

UPS pilots' union to vote on potential strike

The union that represents UPS pilots is calling for a vote on a potential strike against one of the nation's largest parcel delivery companies. 

The Louisville, Ky.-based Independent Pilots Association (IPA), which has more than 2,600 members, said Wednesday that it would hold a vote on a potential strike against UPS beginning on Oct. 1. 

Union leaders said the vote is an effort to win concessions from UPS after multiple years of protracted labor talks. 

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"A strike is the least desirable outcome of labor negotiations, but after four years of contract talks with UPS we’ve reached a point where UPS needs to hear loud and clear from our membership that they are willing to do whatever it takes to secure an industry leading contract,” IPA President Robert Travis said in a statement. 

“UPS has stalled and delayed, unnecessarily prolonging our negotiations,” Travis continued. "UPS management has created a bitter standoff with its pilot employees. In sharp contrast, UPS archrival Federal Express recently announced a tentative agreement with its pilots. If ratified, the FedEx pilot deal will bring labor peace to our main competitor, given that the pilots are the only major employee group at FedEx covered by a collective bargaining agreement.”

The union and UPS have been at odds since 2011 over wages and retirement benefits for cargo pilots who work for the company. Federal mediators have been involved in the talks since February 2014, but a vote by the union to strike this fall would end the ongoing mediation between the parties. 

The company and the union cast the thus far unsuccessful federal intervention as a normal part of the labor process when it was first announced in February of last year. 

"This joint request [for mediation] reflects the desire of both parties to continue to progress toward an agreement that is good for UPS, its customers and employees," UPS and the IPA said in a joint statement in February 2014.  

"Not only is NMB mediation a common part of the negotiations process under the RLA, the NMB has successfully mediated every contract UPS has negotiated with the IPA," the joint 2014 statement continued. "The parties have utilized their best efforts over the past two and a half years of negotiations, and have not yet reached agreement in the contract areas of scheduling, compensation, pension, scope and benefits." 

The IPA union said Wednesday that it will announce the results of the strike vote on Oct. 23.