UPS pilots to vote on strike authorization, heating up contract talks

Pilots at UPS will vote on whether to authorize a strike, an action that does not signal a strike is planned, but is a move by union leadership to ratchet up pressure in contract negotiations.

The union representing UPS’s 2,600 pilots have been in contract talks for four years and is in federally mediated talks with UPS.

The move for a strike authorization vote comes after UPS rival FedEx reached a tentative contract agreement with its pilots.

“UPS has stalled and delayed, unnecessarily prolonging our negotiations,” said Robert Travis, president of the Independent Pilots Association union at UPS, in a written statement.

The UPS pilots will vote on strike authorization with results to be announced Oct. 23.

Sandy Springs-based UPS said “[we] don’t see this as a threat to our ability to continue to support our customers’ needs and operate our airline network.”

“We see this as a negotiations effort on their part, and we’re continuing to meet and remain committed to coming to a bargaining situation that works for all parties,” UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said.

The UPS pilots are governed by the Railway Labor Act that governs airline labor relations, and voting to authorize a strike would not necessarily mean a strike would happen. First, the pilots union would have to clear a number of hurdles to be able to strike.