UPS pilots ratify contract with $60,000 signing bonus for captains

Pilots at Sandy Springs-based UPS overwhelmingly approved a new contract that includes immediate raises of nearly 15 percent and signing bonuses of $60,000 for captains and $40,000 for first officers.

More than 91 percent of pilots voted in favor of the deal, and almost 99 percent of the pilot union’s members cast ballots, according to the company. UPS has more than 2,500 pilots.

The contract takes effect Thursday, with an initial 14.7 percent pay hike and 3 percent annual increases over five years, according to the Independent Pilots Association. That’s a compounded increase of about 29 percent. The immediate increase and signing bonuses come in place of retroactive pay.

The two sides had been in contract negotiations for about five years, including two years of federal mediation. The union last fall voted to authorize a strike as a tactic to increase pressure.

The deal also includes a 40 percent increase to the pension plan.

“We are happy that our crewmembers have accepted this win-win contract offer,” UPS Airlines president Brendan Canavan said in a written statement.

Other changes in the contract are aimed at addressing pilot fatigue, including changes in duty periods for overnight and international flights, and more sleep facilities on some aircraft and at major UPS gateways. The National Transportation Safety Board in 2014 determined that pilots in the 2013 crash of a UPS jet in Birmingham, Ala., were likely fatigued. But the NTSB said more stringent work-hour rules wouldn’t have prevented the crash.

Independent Pilots Association president Robert Travis said the union will continue to advocate for passenger airline pilot duty and rest rules to apply to cargo pilots.