By Doug Cunningham
About 80 Independent Pilots Association UIPS pilots are honoring picket lines in Cologne Germany for a 24 hour strike of german UPS workers. IPA spokesman Brian Gaudet.
[Brian Gaudet]: "Anytime there's a legal picket line against UPS
and we're in a position to support that other union, we choose to.
Cologne is our largest hub in Germany and the German workers there are fantastic and do a great job of taking care of our pilots. And if they felt they needed to take a day-long strike against UPS. we're not gonna cross those lines."
Gaudet says about 60 UPS flights will be affected.
UPS and the Independent Pilots Association are presenting final bargaining positions this week as federal mediation comes to an end. The pilots union is preparing for a strike after five years of trying to negotiate a new labor agreement with UPS. Pilots union spokesman Brian Gaudet lays out the issues that are important to UPS pilots.
[Brian Gaudet]: "The number one goal of this contract is to improve safety. And the way we want to improve safety is by better scheduling. Fatigues is a huge issue for the pilots at UPS. The FAA has instituted new flight and duty rules for passenger pilots, but unfortunately cargo pilots were carved out of that. So improving our schedules, better safety, mitigating fatigue is basically job one."
Gaudet says pilots have opened a new strategic strike center in Louisville Kentucky to better coordinate strike action if needed. But the pilots are hoping they can come to an agreement with UPS without a strike. Gaudet says the pilots are overdue for improvements at UPS.
[Brian Gaudet]: "We want improved wages. We haven't seen a pay raise since January 1 of 2012. We want to improve pensions. The average pilot now is in his or her early fifties, so they're starting to pay attention to that."
Health care is also a constant concern for UPS pilots as it is for all workers in America.
Gaudet says until the federal mediation sessions are over this week he can't reveal what's happening there.
[Brian Gaudet]: "Really can't talk about what's goin' on at the table while it's going on. But what I can say is whether it's our brothers in Germany at with Ver.di or whether it's the quarter million Teamsters who work for UPS domestically, we support them and we have a letter of support from Jimmy Hoffa. They're gonna support us."
Even after the mediation pilots would have to wait for a 30 day cooling off period under the Railway Labor Act before any strike could start. And UPS pilots don't want to strike. But after five years of trying to reach an agreement their patience is running out at UPS.