Previously members of the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) had taken a vote authorizing a strike if a new contract was not reached. It asked the mediator for release from negotiations, which, if allowed, would have permitted the pilots to strike.
The mediator did not release the IPA from negotiations – placing them on indefinite recess instead – with the hope both sides would re-evaluate their positions and move toward a negotiated settlement. Under the Railway Labor Act, during the recess IPA pilots must continue to work under their existing contract.
In the company’s view, says Bob Lekites, vice president of UPS airlines and international operations, “While the company and union still have differences to address, UPS remains committed to continue negotiations until an agreement can be reached.”
Brian Gaudet of the IPA notes that while the Union’s request for release was not granted, another air cargo carrier, World Airways, made a similar request and that request was granted. He points out that Pilot Air had made a request for release from negotiations and that, too, had been granted, so that within the last three months two air cargo carriers have been released from negotiations.
Claiming that the level of animosity has not declined, Gaudet says, “We’ve seen Polar released and we’ve seen World released and if we can’t get something done, we’ll be requesting again and there’s nothing that says we won’t get released next time. For shippers and investors, we’ve gone from a yellow caution light to a yellow caution light.”
Major issues yet to be resolved include compensation and benefits. For its part, “UPS continues to believe the federally prescribed negotiating process will result in a contract that best serves the interests of its employees, customers and shareholders.”