UPS pilots' contract talks heat up with strike authorization vote

Pilots for shipping giant UPS have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, which does not signal a strike is planned but is aimed at intensifying pressure in contract negotiations.

The move would allow the pilots union's executive board to seek a release from federally-mediated negotiations and request permission to strike.

As the busy holiday shipping season approaches, the union and the company are scheduled to return to negotiations in early November.

UPS says it continues to negotiate in good faith and talks are progressing.

More than 99 percent of UPS pilots signaled support for authorizing a strike, with 2,252 voting in favor and 8 against. Nearly 97 percent of members cast ballots, the Independent Pilots Association said.

“In a clear voice, UPS pilots have said they are willing to strike if necessary to finish the job,” said the union's president Robert Travis in a written statement.

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

The union has been in contract talks with the company for four years. The announcement about the strike vote results comes days after FedEx pilots voted in favor of a new six-year labor contract.

UPS pilot contract negotiations fall under the Railway Labor Act, which governs airline labor relations. Voting to authorize a strike does not mean a strike will happen, and the pilots union would have to clear a number of hurdles to be able to strike.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents 250,000 UPS workers, this week pledged its support of UPS pilots if they chose to go on strike.

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