News of the narrowly-missed UPS strike can still be found in headlines worldwide, celebrating an agreement that saved the US economy from a devastating $10 billion in losses and lost wages. Lest you breathe a sigh of relief, FedEx takes center stage as its pilots recently rejected a 30% pay hike proposal.
Before making any drastic moves, let’s talk about the FedEx labor negotiations and why a strike won’t happen anytime soon.
On June 12, the Air Line Pilots Association distributed a press release stating that the governing body had reached a tentative agreement on updated contracts, pending pilot ratification. The terms included a “30 percent pay increase, a 30 percent increase to the pilots’ legacy pension, and a fully developed and equally valuable company-funded Market Based Cash Balance Pension to provide a durable replacement for their legacy pension.” The release continues, saying the agreement marks the “largest investment in a pilot contract, on a per capita basis, and substantially raises the bar on pilot retirement.”
Although ALPA President, Capt. Jason Ambrosi said that “if ratified, will raise the bar on retirement for all pilots. This tentative agreement has the highest value achieved among major carriers in the last twenty years,” 5,000 pilots voted, with only 43% accepting these new terms.
Despite 57% of FedEx airline pilots voting “no” on the union-endorsed proposed contract, a strike isn’t likely anytime soon. That’s because FedEx pilots, unlike UPS drivers, are covered by the Railway Labor Act (RLA). This is the same act that would have allowed Congress to step in to avoid a rail strike last Christmas.
Covering rail workers and airline employees, the RLA places some major hurdles in the way of any unions wanting to strike. Enacted in 1926, the federal law holds negotiations and mediation above strikes for conflict resolution.
To protect interstate transit, the RLA, administered by the National Mediation Board, imposes time-intensive dispute resolution procedures and cooling-off periods before a strike is authorized.
A FedEx statement guarantees, “The tentative agreement voting results have no impact on our service as we continue delivering for our customers around the world. The parties will return to negotiations under the supervision of the National Mediation Board.”
Even if the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the president of the United States can step in and require a months-long cooling-off period, and Congress can take action to block the strike.
Long story short, it will be business as usual at FedEx for the foreseeable future.
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