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UPS Pilot Union Prepares For Possible Strike

The second floor room at the Independent Pilots Association is outfitted with desktop computers and flat-screen TVs, and equipped with technology to track the whereabouts of its pilots in the event of a work stoppage.

The union that represents some 2,500 UPS pilots has taken another step to prepare for a possible strike, establishing a "strike operation center" at its Louisville-based headquarters. The facility was opened for media tours Tuesday.

UPS pilots have been working under the terms of their previous contract, which expired in 2011. The two sides continue to take part in federally mediated negotiations, but IPA president Bob Travis says he believes the talks are close to an impasse.

"The National Mediation Board is fully aware that our pilot group is prepared," says Travis. "We don’t want to go on strike, should they determine there’s an impasse and release us. And they have to make that determination.”

If the mediation board declares an impasse, there would be a 30-day cooling off period before pilots could strike.

UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot dismisses the IPA action as a publicity stunt, calling it “typical of the kind of past tactics the union has used to try to pressure negotiations.”

Mangeot says UPS doesn’t publicly discuss the specifics of contract talks, but is still confident that an agreement can be reached.

“What I can tell you is we do a great job of taking care of our pilots and they in turn do a great job of flying for us,” he says.

Among the sticking points in the talks are flight schedules and crew fatigue.

Travis says the union has put its final proposals on the table and UPS is expected to do the same next week.

Rick Howlett was midday host and the host of LPM's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." He was with LPM from 2001-2023 and held many different titles, including Morning Edition host, Assignment Editor and Interim News Director. He died in August 2023. Read a remembrance of Rick here.

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