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FedEx pilots picket over frustration about contract negotiations

Pilots and others held an informational picket Tuesday at the FedEx Express Air Operations Center in Memphis.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tuesday, a group of FedEx pilots had a picket to raise awareness about their continued frustration with their contracts. 

This is now a 13-month process since the group has been working to negotiate contracts.

The hope is that this effort is enough to get FedEx leaders to make meaningful improvements on the two main negotiations that they want to see changed.

“I have pilots that retire every day When they retire, they can’t retroactively look at what their next contract says. They are stuck with that pension plan from 1999,” FedEx alpha MEC Chair Captain Chris Norman said.

Considering all that has happened since then, including the cost of living, he would like to see some adjustments made.

“Since we have started these negotiations, I have 133 pilots that earned something that they’ll never see. They earned a pension plan that’s lost to them forever,” Norman said.

He added that their quality of life is another item on their list that they have been negotiating, especially since FedEx pilots are always working, when a major crisis happens that makes demand high and supply low, like the pandemic or the baby formula shortage.

“We were flying into places where there were complete lockdowns, where you had a chance of being in up to a three-week quarantine,” Norman said. “Or it could have been longer. The exposure was there constantly for FedEx pilots…couldn’t even go home to their family.”

Tuesday afternoon, FedEx pilots partnered with the Air Line Pilots Association to have an informational picket to express their frustration with the contract negotiations and try to figure out a resolution.

The association is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 65,000 pilots in 40 U.S. and Canadian airlines.

Norman said their biggest hope is that leaders hear them out.

FedEx has been very profitable during this time whereas a lot of airlines have not, so we know that we should have an industry-leading contract,” Norman said. “The rest of the industry looks to us and says, ‘Hey, these guys are successful and it’s just important to know that you take care of the people that work for you.”

Norman said the contract is so important because it controls every aspect of their lives as pilots, including their work rules.

FedEx responded to ABC24's request for a statement, saying: “FedEx remains engaged in productive negotiations with our pilots’ union. These negotiations are a normal part of our business and have no impact on our service, as we continue delivering for our customers around the world. We will continue to negotiate in good faith with our pilots and are committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to our pilots, our other team members, and all other stakeholders.”

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