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Pilots in FedEx union to vote on December strike

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Leaders of the union for Federal Express pilots voted unanimously to seek strike authorization from members, which could mean a walkout during the package delivery company's Christmas rush.

Both sides say they hope to avoid a strike. In the meantime, it's "business as usual," FedEx spokesman Greg Rossiter said Sunday.Ballots will be sent this week to the 3,200 members of the FedEx Pilots Association. The union hopes to complete balloting by Nov. 20.

If two-thirds of the union pilots are willing to walk out, the union could call a strike during December, the Memphis-based company's busiest season.

The union board members said in a news release they were forced to take the vote by a lack of progress in contract talks. The company's 3,500 pilots became unionized in 1993 but never have had a contract.

They say career compensation for FedEx pilots is 37 percent below the pay at their top rival, United Parcel Service, while retirement compensation is 213 percent below United Airlines'.

FedEx chief executive officer Ted Weise said the company presented union leaders with a proposal on Friday that would put pilots "in the very top echelon of the airline industry in every major category."