Monday, February 08, 2010

UPS announces plans for pilot furloughs

by B. N. Sullivan

UPSHundreds of UPS pilots may be facing furloughs in the near future.  In a press release issued today, the freight carrier announced plans to furlough "at least 300" of its 2,800 pilots.  Plans call for the layoffs to occur in phases, with the first group receiving furlough notices in May of this year.

At the same time, however, the company said it would continue to work with the pilots' union, the Independent Pilots Association, to identify cost-saving measures "that would avert or mitigate the layoffs before they take effect."  According to the UPS press release:
Last June, the IPA identified significant savings through voluntary programs such as pilots taking short- and long-term leaves of absence; military leaves; job sharing; reduction in flight pay guarantees; early retirement, and sick bank contributions. UPS subsequently agreed it would not furlough any pilots in 2009.

The two sides have been working cooperatively ever since to identify additional cost-cutting initiatives that would eliminate the threat of layoffs entirely. Subsequent discussions have failed, however, to identify sufficient operating savings.
"This is a painful decision for our people, but one that is right for the on-going health of our business," said UPS Airlines President Bob Lekites.

"Companywide, we will continue to evaluate all opportunities and make adjustments as necessary to ensure our company is well-positioned to emerge stronger than ever as the economy continues to recover.  We applaud our pilots for the way they've joined with UPS in trying to tackle this problem and hope we can identify a mutually beneficial outcome," Lekites said.