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VOL. 126 | NO. 26 | Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Pilots Union Council to Vote on FedEx Contract

By Bill Dries

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The executive council of the labor union representing FedEx pilots meets this week to consider a tentative contract between the pilots and the Memphis-based shipper.

The two sides have reportedly reached a one-year pact, but Courtney Bland, spokeswoman for the Airline Pilots Association FedEx Master Executive Council, said no details will be released until the council decides what to recommend to the membership.

“It’s subject to their approval,” Bland said. “If they approve it then it would go to a ratification vote by the pilots. It’s not even confirmed that it will get approved.”

If the contract agreement is a shorter term than the usual multiyear agreements, it could be an interim step setting the stage for more intense negotiations and more specific terms to come on a perennial concern in contract terms involving working conditions.

Federal regulators are overhauling regulations on when pilots work and the rules for time between flights.

Those have been critical issues in past labor negotiations and could be again once the new Federal Aviation Administration rules are in place.

The FAA withdrew the 1995 rule for pilot flight time and rest in November. For domestic flights, pilots are limited to eight hours of flight time during a 24-hour period. That can be extended if there is a rest period after a flight. The regulations ban an airline from assigning or a pilot accepting a flight if the pilot has not had at least eight continuous hours of rest in 24 hours.

The regulations do not specifically set limits on how long a pilot can be on duty.

What the FAA comes up with will be the baseline for future labor agreements, not just with FedEx but with other cargo carriers who use the same general system in which pilots beyond a core group work as needed to meet cargo volume.

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