NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The union representing United Parcel Service  (UPS - Get Report)  pilots voted nearly unanimously today to authorize a strike by the Independent Pilots Association, as contract negotiations between the pilots and UPS approach a fifth year.

The five-pilot Independent Pilots Association executive board will now be able to formally request a release from federally mediated negotiations with UPS, with the option for the 2,500 UPS pilots to go on strike after mediation, according to a statement. 

Pilots argue that the contract should allow more time to rest between flights, similar to the rules for airline pilots set out by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the Wall Street Journal. Other points of contention within the contract include pay, health care and retirement benefits. 

The next round of contract negotiations is scheduled for November, and a strike is considered mostly a symbolic gesture, the Journal adds. 

On Thursday, the Teamsters union said it would stand by UPS pilots if a strike was deemed necessary, according to a statement. The Teamsters union represents 250,000 workers at UPS.

Additionally, earlier this week competitor FedEx (FDX) ratified a six-year contract with its pilots, pressuring UPS to resolve the dispute shortly. If the UPS pilots do strike, shoppers will likely consider alternate shipping options for the busy holiday season, the Journal adds. 

Shares of UPS are slumping by 0.34% to $106.07 in late morning trading on Friday. 

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC (UPS) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, increase in net income, notable return on equity, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Air Freight & Logistics industry. The net income increased by 170.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $454.00 million to $1,230.00 million.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Air Freight & Logistics industry and the overall market, UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 442.06% to $1,488.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 442.06%, UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 511.64%.
  • UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC reported lower earnings of $3.28 versus $4.62 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.28 versus $3.28).
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: UPS