FedEx pilots : FedEx pilots have turned down a proposed agreement between the company and their union, making it impossible. However, this outcome does not translate into a pending strike, as we observe a parallel situation at UPS, where a potential strike emerges, affecting approximately 340,000 drivers and other hourly ground workers.
The Air Line Pilots Association, representing FedEx pilots, witnessed 57% of its members dissenting from the proposed contract, which was initially negotiated in May and endorsed by the union leadership. The proposal encompassed an enticing 30% wage escalation alongside a notable 30% enhancement in pension benefits. Although the underlying
concerns that instigated this majority vote against the agreement remain paque at present,
Despite the majority opposition, the 5,200 FedEx pilots cannot hastily initiate a strike. Their working conditions fall under the purview of the Railway Labor Act, which, despite its name,governs both railway and airline employees Notably, these industries feature robust unionization, and this law enforces significant obstacles for any union aiming to call for a strike. Consequently, The FedEx pilots, who are classified as airline employees under this labor law, have yet to surmount these hindrances.
In this context, if federally mediated union negotiations stall, a union could seek permission to strike. Still, the President of the United States has the power to step in at the last minute and call for a “cooling-off period” that would last for a few months. During this time, a presidential group would come up with ideas to break the deadlock.
Only if the two sides can’t come to an agreement during this “cooling off” time could the union think about going on strike. But only if Congress doesn’t step in to stop it, like it did with the freight railroads in recent years.
FedEx expressed disappointment in the voting results but affirmed that operations would continue smoothly despite the rejection. The company emphasized its commitment to negotiating in good faith to arrive at fair agreement for all stakeholders.
It is worth noting that FedEx pilots constitute the most substantial unionized workforce within the company. In response to the voting outcome, the union leadership vowed to return to the negotiating table, endeavoring to secure a mutually acceptable resolution.
The broader context of a nationwide pilot shortage, affecting both passenger airlines and cargo carriers, remains relevant. This scarcity positions pilots to leverage their negotiating power for substantial pay increases. For instance, United Airlines recently agreed to a wage hike of up to 40% for its pilots.
American Airlines had previously reached an agreement with its pilotsto boost their pay by approximately 42% in June.
However, after United’s offer was better than American’s, American and its pilots’ union decided not to put the plan to a vote because they knew it was less likely to pass. It is anticipated that the American deal will be revised by an
additional 2% to align with the tentative deal at United, incorporating changes in work rules obtained by United pilots, beforebeing presented to American pilots for ratification.
In recent years, numerous instances have arisen where union members rejected deals recommended by their leadership.
One such example occurred at agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere, where members of the United Auto Workers union initially voted down a lucrative deal, proceeding to strike in October 2021. Subsequently, they rejected a subsequent deal as well, remaining on strike until a third deal was accepted to end the five-week walkout. Additionally, several freight railroad unions rejected deals negotiated by their leadership.