Court orders striking pilots back to work in time for holidays
- About 250 pilots working for ABX Air, an air freight contractor servicing both Amazon and DHL, returned to work Wednesday evening after a federal judge ordered a five-day end to the strike, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
- U.S. District Judge Timothy Black stated the dispute should be resolved under arbitration, since the strike involves differing interpretation of worker contracts. The pilots' lawyer told Bloomberg a decision on further action would be announced this week.
- A strike last weekend would have caused "irreparable harm" to the many businesses, which depend on contractors for peak season delivery, according to the Judge. The two-day strike grounded roughly 75 flights according to a press release.
ABX, which supplies both DHL and Amazon with pilots, is perceived by its employees as being deliberately understaffed.
According to the pilots, rather than hiring more or increasing benefits that would help retention, the air cargo contractor has forced pilots to work more than 8,000 "emergency assignment days" to meet rising demand.
"ABX Air’s failure to address the staffing crisis hurts our families and compromises our ability to do our jobs and meet the needs of Amazon, DHL and other customers," said ABX pilot Rick Ziebarth in a statement e-mailed to Supply Chain Dive. "ABX and the other airlines that service DHL and Amazon are facing a staffing crisis in large part because they cannot attract and retain talented pilots with the substandard pay and benefits they provide," added David Wells, Teamsters Local 1224's president.
In general, aviation workers are on thin ice this holiday season as both workload and contract negotiations intensify. UPS, too, is facing the threat of a strike among its airplane maintenance workers over healthcare benefits. Meanwhile, workers in Chicago O'Hare International Airport intend to begin striking for better pay Tuesday.
Logistics strikes during this season are high-impact, as many e-commerce enabled supply chains depend on contract workers, drivers or pilots for timely delivery of their goods. A delay in one link can domino throughout the chain.
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