Date
11 December 2016
Employees work at an Amazon distribution center. The stoppage has affected 75 flights, mostly serving Amazon and DHL. Photo: Reuters
Employees work at an Amazon distribution center. The stoppage has affected 75 flights, mostly serving Amazon and DHL. Photo: Reuters

Pilots strike at cargo airline serving Amazon, DHL

Pilots at ABX Air, an express cargo airline that serves online retailer Amazon.com Inc. and DHL Express, have gone on strike at a critical time for retailers with the holiday shopping season about to kick into high gear.

Some 250 pilots, who are represented by the Teamsters union, went on strike in the early morning Tuesday, affecting 75 flights, mostly for Amazon and DHL, a unit of Deutsche Post AG, Reuters reports.

Pilots went on strike because ABX, owned by Air Transport Services Group Inc., has violated its contract by asking them to work emergency hours over the last two years because of a staffing shortage, then failed to grant them compensatory time off or allow pilots to take earned vacations, the union said.

“Our pilots are striking so that we can have the status quo of our contract restored, and we would like that to be in the next minute so we can return to serving our customers,” said Tim Jewell, a pilot and secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 1224, which represents ABX pilots.

“But if the company chooses not to do that our members are prepared to continue striking.”

Air Transport Services Group said in a statement that ABX was taking multiple steps to tackle an “illegal work stoppage” including seeking a court order to get pilots back to work.

“We expect the court will uphold our position that the actions taken by the union to refuse work assignments is not legal, and the issues involved constitute a minor dispute to be resolved via arbitration under terms of our current labor agreements,” ABX Air President John Starkovich said in a statement.

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