LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 19, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With negotiations for a new pilot contract nearing a critical juncture, the Independent Pilots Association (IPA), representing the pilots who fly for United Parcel Service (UPS), is opening a Strike Operations Center (SOC) at its Louisville headquarters. The Strike Center will serve as the pilots' nerve center in the event of a UPS pilot strike.
"After nearly five years of bargaining, which includes two years of concentrated federal mediation, it is now crunch time," said Captain Robert Travis, President of the IPA.
At the mediator's direction, the Union presented its closing positions earlier this month. UPS is expected to do the same at the next bargaining session, scheduled for the week of April 25.
"Should the parties remain apart, the National Mediation Board (NMB) will have an evaluation to make," said Travis. "For five years, UPS has thumbed its nose at the negotiation process. The law, even the Railway Labor Act, does not allow a party to indefinitely evade the law's requirement to make and maintain labor agreements."
Overseeing the talks, the NMB makes the determination when negotiations have reached an impasse. Once that determination is made, the federal agency has the authority to release the parties from mediation, which can result in a 30-day countdown to either a pilot strike or lockout.
"The IPA believes we are nearing the point where the mediation services of the NMB will be exhausted, and the possibility of an impasse, as defined by law, becomes a reality," said Travis.
Travis stressed that opening the strike center is not a rash decision by the Association or its pilots. "In October, our pilots deliberated and gave careful consideration to all options. Virtually every UPS pilot participated in a strike vote and 99% voted to give the Association's five-pilot Executive Board the authority to request release from mediation and, if necessary, to conduct a strike against UPS."
"It's pretty simple. UPS is engaged in an unnecessary and reckless game of chicken with its pilots, shareholders, and customers. We are not playing games. While we prefer a negotiated agreement, our pilots are preparing for a strike at UPS."
The IPA strike center is a strategic tool that gives the UPS pilots state-of-the-art technology to track flights, picket, keep in contact with crewmembers, dispel rumors, support its families and stay in touch with the media and the investment community.
SOURCE Independent Pilots Association