What is a strike?
A strike is the withdrawal of service by employees.
What is a strike authorization ballot?
A strike authorization ballot, governed by ALPA’s Constitution and By-Laws, is a significant internal step in the Railway Labor Act (RLA) negotiating process. Prior to calling a strike, the membership needs to approve and authorize the action by a vote. Just as important, a Strike Authorization Vote demonstrates to all that the pilots are unified and willing to go the full length of the RLA process, if necessary, while also giving the Negotiating Committee the leverage to get the contract that the pilots have worked so hard for and have earned. Therefore, to be effective a Strike Authorization Vote should have 100% pilot participation with an overwhelming vote in favor of going on strike, if necessary.
With a "yes" vote, does that mean a strike is going to happen?
No. In fact, a strong showing of support can help PREVENT a strike by demonstrating your willingness to strike. A "YES" vote will authorize the MEC to take strike action, if that proves necessary when it is lawful to do so. Under the RLA, a strike may not occur until after the conclusion of the federal mediation process and then after the expiration of a subsequent 30-day cooling off period, at which time both parties are “released” to pursue self-help. The ballot indicates the pilot group’s willingness to strike if needed, once permitted under the law.
When could FedEx pilots go on strike?
Please watch this video for a quick overview of the RLA process. In summary, there are several steps that the parties must follow before the parties are released to "self-help" under the RLA. If the parties reach a deadlock while in mediation and the National Mediation Board (NMB) declares an impasse, the NMB proffers binding interest arbitration to both parties. If either side refuses arbitration, the NMB releases the parties to a 30-day cooling-off period during which the status quo obligation continues and further mediation takes place. If the parties do not reach an agreement during this cooling-off period, then the parties are free to engage in self-help at the end of the period. The President of the United States can delay self-help by appointing a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) at the end of the cooling-off period.
Why would we want to go on strike?
Nobody wants to go on strike. But some issues are so important to our careers that we must be willing to stand up and fight for what we deserve. If we reach the end of the 30-day cooling-off period without an agreement, it will only be because management would not work with us to resolve our core issues. Ultimately, a strike may be the only way we can achieve our objectives, stop management's exploitation or the destruction of our profession.
Are labor strikes effective?
Yes. Both the threat of an impending strike, and the successful execution of a strike, can have a powerful effect on our ability to achieve our goals at the negotiating table.
How long will a strike last?
We hope we will never have to strike and we are working as hard as we can to avoid one. If we strike, the MEC will calculate the duration and nature of the strike to produce the maximum pressure on management to reach an agreement with us, while limiting the damage that our members and our customers will suffer. With that in mind, strikes can vary in duration from hours or days to even months. It usually ends when the parties reach an agreement. For this reason, it is impossible to predict the length of a strike. And while it is important to keep in mind that neither party wants a strike, it is best to be financially prepared to “go the distance” – even if that means a strike lasting more than a few weeks. The more prepared the pilot group is the greater the likelihood that a strike will be successful, if one becomes necessary.
Do I have to participate in a strike?
As members of the Air Line Pilots Association, we are all in this together. Remember, a strike is an absolute last resort. A strike is also our final and greatest leverage point at the negotiating table. Participation in a strike that has been authorized by all FedEx pilot members and called for by your elected union representatives and the Negotiating Committee should be supported and is considered a requirement for all pilots.
What happens if I refuse to participate in a strike?
Performing services for an employer during a strike is grounds for expulsion from ALPA according to Article VIII of the ALPA Constitution & By-laws. By crossing a picket line, a pilot is knowingly undermining the efforts of their fellow pilots to achieve a contract. Pilots who cross a picket line and perform struck work are commonly referred to as “scabs.”