By Wayne Risher of The Commercial Appeal
FedEx Express pilots approved a new contract agreement that contains across-the-board pay raises, signing bonuses and other improvements, the pilot union announced Tuesday.
A tentative agreement passed with 57 percent voting in favor and 43 percent against, the FedEx master executive council of the Air Line Pilots Association said.
The agreement, announced in August, calls for pay increases of 10 percent initially and slightly more than 3 percent a year through 2021, plus one-time bonuses $22,000 to $39,000 a pilot. The contract would take effect Nov. 2.
FedEx ALPA chief Chuck Dyer said the vote breakdown reflected "a tough environment for ratification" but the result was an industry-leading contract. Pilots had been in formal negotiations with FedEx management since January 2013.
"The pay, the work rules, the retirement, the health care: I don't think there's a piece of it that's not industry leading," Dyer said. "Clearly there was a large number of people, it didn't meet their expectations, which is not unusual in a vote. It's something we're going to work on."
The FedEx vote assures labor peace among the Memphis-based company's pilot force at a time when rival United Parcel Service is facing a potential work stoppage by about 2,600 pilots.
UPS pilots have been voting since Oct. 1 on whether to authorize a strike. The Independent Pilots Association is scheduled to release results of the vote Friday. UPS and its pilots have been negotiating since August 2011.
ALPA represents about 4,200 FedEx Express pilots. The union said 3,732 votes were cast, 96.78 percent of eligible voters.
The first-year increase will bring FedEx pilot pay to more than $257,000 a year on average.
Dyer, a FedEx captain, said, "With the ballot to approve or reject the agreement open for nearly a month, our pilots did their due diligence to analyze and evaluate this agreement. In the end, the majority felt we achieved an agreement that brings improvements and recognizes our contribution to the success of FedEx."
FedEx spokesman Jim McCluskey said, "We are pleased to have a ratified agreement that is beneficial for our pilots and for FedEx Express. We sincerely appreciate the efforts of both negotiating teams for concluding a deal that will allow us to continue to provide outstanding service to our customers in the years ahead."
The new FedEx Express contract also contains better compensation for new hires, retirement plan enhancements and work rule improvements, Dyer said.
Dyer credited negotiating committee chairman, Captain Scott Larsen, along with ALPA staff, subject matter experts and the union's elected representatives.
"We worked closely with the National Mediation Board and FedEx to reach an agreement that was acceptable to all parties involved," Dyer said.