With the holiday shopping season just about upon us, the Independent Pilots Association (IPA), a trade union representing pilots at UPS, said its leadership has called on its 2,528 members to authorize a pilot strike against UPS.

Please consider Further Airline Problems are Brewing at UPS.

The possibility of a major disruption to UPS domestic and international air cargo services has moved closer after the union representing pilots at the parcel giant asked its members to back a strike.

The Teamsters have also ended talks with the airline and called a strike.

The Independent Pilots Association representing all UPS pilots says that negotiations which began four years ago have gone on too long.

UPS said it wants to reach an agreement as soon a possible, but such contracts often take years to agree because of their complexity.

The company has claimed that the threat of a strike is costing it about $5 million a day in business lost to competitors such as the US Postal Service and Federal Express Corp.

IPA Claim

Captain Robert Travis, Independent Pilots Association: “UPS has stalled and delayed, unnecessarily prolonging our negotiations

UPS Claim

“During the 27-year history of UPS Airlines, we have successfully negotiated four contracts with our pilots, who are the top earners in commercial aviation. We hope to reach a new agreement as quickly as possible. However, airline industry contracts often take multiple years to complete. This is due to the complexity of the pacts and the protections of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) [the U.S. law that governs airline contract talks]. Under the RLA, airline contracts do not expire, they become amendable. Their terms remain in force while the new contract is negotiated. This is true even when the union employs tactics such as a strike authorization vote, a routine show of solidarity in airline negotiations that is legally irrelevant to the actual proceedings.”

Pity the Pilots

  • Captains have a guaranteed salary of $255,128, with a typical captain earning another $35,000.
  • FedEx captains earn a guaranteed $230,379.
  • The average pay of all UPS pilots, including captains and first officers, is $238,000, dwarfing the median wage for a U.S. commercial airline pilot at $98,410 based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
  • UPS crew members enjoy two company-funded retirement plans in addition to a traditional 401(k)
  • UPS offers comprehensive health insurance with an annual contribution that costs a third less than what a typical U.S. family pays.

Reader Anecdotes

Reader Tim Wallace writes …

Hello Mish

I flew home recently with a UPS pilot who told me he loves his job. Now I know why. He does the international loop, in which he is away 8 days at a time, then home for 10. Not a bad gig.


Railway Labor Act

Wikipedia reports the Railway Labor Act is a “United States federal law that governs labor relations in the railroad and airline industries. The Act, passed in 1926 and amended in 1934 and 1936, seeks to substitute bargaining, arbitration and mediation for strikes as a means of resolving labor disputes. Its provisions were originally enforced under the Board of Mediation, but were later enforced under a National Mediation Board.”

Strike Threats

These strike threats drag out for years because of mandated negotiations, and specific rules over “major” and “minor” disputes.

Unions can strike over major disputes only after they have exhausted the RLA’s “almost interminable” negotiation and mediation procedures. They cannot, on the other hand, strike over minor disputes, either during the arbitration procedures or after an award is issued.

Government Meddling

Once again, note the problems where government meddles. Businesses and private taxpayers alike, all pay higher shipping costs because of nonsensical mandated arbitration, collective bargaining, and forced unionization.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock