Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pilots Responsible for UPS Air Freight Contract Prepare for Industrial Action

Strike Centre Opened in Louisville
Shipping News Feature
US – You know things are not going well in the field of industrial relations when one side opens a ‘Strike Centre’ designed with the sole purpose of ensuring a stoppage campaign runs as efficiently as possible for the striking workers. That however is exactly what the Independent Pilots Association (IPA), representing the pilots who fly for freight and logistics outfit United Parcel Service (UPS), have done this week which sees the opening of a Strike Operations Centre (SOC) at its Louisville headquarters.

The Strike Centre will serve as the pilots’ nerve centre in the event of a UPS pilot strike, an ever more likely event after almost five years of bargaining between the two sides, a period which includes two years of concentrated federal mediation. At the mediator’s direction, the Union presented its closing positions earlier this month. UPS is expected to do the same at the next bargaining session, scheduled for the week of April 25.

Overseeing the talks, the National Mediation Board (NMB) makes the determination when negotiations have reached an impasse. Once that determination is made, the federal agency has the authority to release the parties from mediation, which can result in a 30-day countdown to either a pilot strike or lockout. Captain Robert Travis, President of the IPA, stressed opening the centre was not an act committed rashly and added:

“Should the parties remain apart, the National Mediation Board (NMB) will have an evaluation to make. For five years, UPS has thumbed its nose at the negotiation process. The law, even the Railway Labor Act, does not allow a party to indefinitely evade the law’s requirement to make and maintain labor agreements. The IPA believes we are nearing the point where the mediation services of the NMB will be exhausted, and the possibility of an impasse, as defined by law, becomes a reality.

“In October, our pilots deliberated and gave careful consideration to all options. Virtually every UPS pilot participated in a strike vote and 99% voted to give the Association’s five-pilot Executive Board the authority to request release from mediation and, if necessary, to conduct a strike against UPS. It’s pretty simple. UPS is engaged in an unnecessary and reckless game of chicken with its pilots, shareholders, and customers. We are not playing games. While we prefer a negotiated agreement, our pilots are preparing for a strike at UPS.”

The IPA strike centre is intended as a strategic tool that gives the UPS pilots state-of-the-art technology to track flights, picket, keep in contact with crewmembers, dispel rumors, support its families and stay in touch with the media and the investment community.