“No real threat of pilots’ strike,” says UPS
Following yesterday’s announcement from the Independent Pilots Association about a “standoff” with UPS in their contract talks, UPS has issued a statement saying “there is no real threat of a strike”. The full text of the official UPS statement reads:
“UPS continues to negotiate in good faith for a contract that is good for our employees, our customers and our company, and we are confident these negotiations will be completed without disruption in our service.
“Despite the IPA’s announcement, there is no real threat of a strike. Such authorization votes are routine during negotiations in the airline industry, but they are legally irrelevant under the Railway Labor Act, the U.S. labor law that governs airlines.
“Under the RLA, a strike is not possible unless authorized by the National Mediation Board. Even then, there are a series of fail-safes, including presidential and congressional intervention, designed to prevent an interruption in operations.
“We remain committed to rewarding our pilots for their contributions, but we will do so in a responsible manner that allows us to remain competitive.”
In addition, sources at UPS contacted Post&Parcel yesterday and offered us some background “key facts” about pilots’ pay and conditions at UPS. We would like to share some of this information (but also advise that the source is obviously not a disinterested party).
With regard to compensation, the UPS source commented: “UPS captains are currently guaranteed, at minimum, $255,128 per year. A typical UPS captain earns about $35,000 more. By comparison, the next highest-paid captains (at FedEx) earn $230,379 at guarantee. The average pay for all UPS pilots, including both captains and first officers, is $238,000. The median wage for a U.S. commercial airline pilot is $98,410, according to the most current Bureau of Labor Statistics data.”
On pensions and benefits, the UPS source had this to say: “UPS crewmembers enjoy two company-funded retirement plans in addition to a traditional 401(k): a defined benefit plan (traditional pension), and a defined contribution plan. They are covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan with an annual contribution that costs a third less than what a typical U.S. family, with far lower income, pays.”
And on the subject of crew rest, the UPS source said: “The FAA enacted new rules in 2014 designed to improve crew rest for passenger carriers. These rules do not apply to cargo airlines because we have vastly different business models and route structures. Current UPS rest rules are already more strict than the FAA’s. It’s also worth noting that a typical UPS pilot flies just 10 days a month. The IPA has attempted to draw a link between rest and our 2013 Birmingham crash, but the NTSB has rejected any link between rest regulations and the accident.”
The UPS source also maintained that the UPS strike authorization vote was a “routine show of solidarity in airline negotiations that is legally irrelevant to the actual proceedings”, adding that “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”.