FedEx pilots vote in favor of strike in push for pay rise
By Nathan Gomes
(Reuters) -Pilots of FedEx Corp's air delivery unit on Wednesday voted "overwhelmingly" in favor of a strike if needed, the Air Line Pilots Association said as it enters the final stages of a contract negotiation with the company.
With aviators in short supply and air travel demand booming, pilots are enjoying enhanced bargaining power, encouraging them to push for better contracts with airlines and parcel firms.
More than 97% of the union members took part in the vote and 99% of them authorized union leaders to call a strike, if needed, by the pilots of FedEx Express.
"We are still in productive negotiations with our pilots under the supervision of a government-appointed mediator and will return to the bargaining table next week," FedEx said in a statement.
The union said the industry standard for pilot pay has significantly increased with agreements ratified over the past few months.
Delta Air Lines had in December raised the bar by offering a 34% cumulative pay increase.
"The ball is in the management's court, and it's time for the company to get serious at the bargaining table and invest in our pilots," said Chris Norman, chair of the FedEx ALPA master executive council.
Pilots' union at Southwest Airlines Co too had recently backed a strike mandate ahead of the busy summer travel season.
Under the U.S. law, pilots cannot walk off the job until the National Mediation Board grants them permission.
The board must first decide that additional mediation efforts would not be productive and offer the parties an opportunity to arbitrate.
If either side declines, both parties enter a 30-day "cooling off" period, after which pilots and management can engage in self-help - a strike by the union or a lockout by management.
(Reporting by Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Arun Koyyur)