Delta pilots vote overwhelmingly to authorize strike

(The Hill) – Delta Air Lines pilots voted overwhelmingly to allow a strike on Monday if a new contractual agreement with the carrier is not reached.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents pilots, said 99% of those polled voted in favor of a strike if necessary, with the vast majority of its members taking part.

“Today, Delta’s more than 15,000 pilots sent a clear message to management that we are ready to go all the way to secure a contract that reflects the value we bring to Delta Air Lines as leaders in frontline and long-term stakeholders,” said Captain Jason Ambrosi. , who chairs the Delta Pilots Union.

Under federal law, pilots cannot strike unless a federal government board declares an impasse in negotiations. After a 30-day cooling-off period, the union can call a strike or the carrier can call a lockout.

The union said on Monday that its pilots were working under a contract negotiated in 2016 and talks of a new contract that began in April 2019 had not borne fruit.

Talks were halted for nearly two years during the pandemic, but high-profile talks resumed in January, the union said.

In a statement, the airline stressed that the vote will not affect customers and that many steps remain to be taken before a strike is authorized.

“Delta and ALPA have made significant progress in our negotiations and only have a few contract sections left to resolve,” the airline said. “We are confident that the parties will reach a fair and equitable agreement, as we have always done in past negotiations.”

As demand for air travel has resurfaced this year, the industry has struggled to rebound from downsizing during the pandemic, with delays attributed in part to a shortage of pilots that has hit regional carriers particularly hard.

Other pilot groups represented by ALPA have leveraged carriers’ need for labor to negotiate significant raises and other benefits in recent months.

“Delta has rebounded from the pandemic and is poised to be stronger than ever, posting record third quarter revenue,” Ambrosi said. “Meanwhile, our negotiations have dragged on for too long. Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike. The ball is in the management’s court. It’s time for the company to get serious at the bargaining table and invest in Delta’s pilots.

The federally mandated process between the union and Delta echoes a rail union strike that nearly took place last month that threatened to shut down much of the country’s commercial and freight rail operations.

The railways and unions reached a tentative agreement, but several unions have since rejected the deal, fueling fears that a strike threat could return in the coming weeks.

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