UPS Pilots Willing to Strike for New Contract

In an announcement from the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) on Friday, October 23, 2015, UPS pilots voted 2,252 to 8 for striking against air carrier over the lack of a new labor contract. “UPS promises its customers on-time delivery, but after four years of labor negotiations, the Company has failed to deliver a contract for its pilots,” said IPA president Captain Robert Travis. “In a clear voice, UPS pilots have said they are willing to strike if necessary to finish the job.”

After the announcement, International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James Hoffa pledged the support of 250,000 UPS Teamster co-workers for these pilots. According to the union, roughly 97% percent of the pilots participated in the vote giving the IPA, the union’s executive board, authorization to formally apply for a release from federally mediated negotiations with UPS, and also the good sense to conduct a strike after mediation concludes.

Even though an overwhelming majority approved the strike, the two parties are scheduled to resume negotiations in early November with the federal mediator. However, the mediator retains the rights to cancel these sessions. Despite the strike announcement, UPS remains confident the negotiations will finish without service disruption.

The company views the pilots’ vote to strike as a symbolic gesture because, under federal law, the pilots have to be allowed to strike by the National Mediation Board (NMB), which is overseeing the negotiations. According to UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot, “A strike is not possible without the NMB’s permission, and then only after exhausting a lengthy series of safeguards.” There are a series of fail-safes, which include presidential and congressional intervention, to prevent a strike from taking place.