By Naveen Athrappully
Pilots from Delta Air Lines have voted overwhelmingly to strike to negotiate for better contracts, with the airline insisting that its operations are currently not impacted by the development.
In an Oct. 31 press release, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced that 99 percent of the participating Delta Air Line pilots voted to authorize their union leaders to call for a strike in order to achieve a new contractual agreement with the company. Currently, Delta pilots are working under pay rates that were negotiated in 2016. Negotiations for a new agreement kicked off in 2019 but remained on ice because of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. Talks resumed in January this year.
Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta Master Executive Council, pointed out that Delta rebounded from the pandemic and posted record revenue during the third quarter of 2022.
“Meanwhile, our negotiations have dragged on for too long. Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike. The ball is in management’s court. It’s time for the Company to get serious at the bargaining table and invest in the Delta pilots,” Ambrosi said in a statement.
By voting for a strike, the nearly 15,000 Delta pilots have sent a “clear message to the management” that they are willing to go the distance and secure a contract favorable to them, he added.
An airline spokesperson pointed out that the authorization vote will not affect their operations because the pilots are currently not on strike.
“Delta and ALPA have made significant progress in our negotiations and have only a few contract sections left to resolve. We are confident that the parties will reach an agreement that is fair and equitable, as we always have in past negotiations,” the spokesperson said in a statement, according to USA Today.
Mediation, Other Negotiations
Delta pilots can only strike if the National Mediation Board (NMB) decides that further mediation between the two parties would be useless.
The agency will offer to arbitrate between the two sides. If both parties decline, a “cooling off” period of 30 days kicks in, after which the pilots can opt to strike or the airline management can enforce a lockout.
Pilots affiliated with other U.S. companies are also negotiating their terms. American Airlines recently offered a 19 percent pay hike to pilots in a new two-year contract, up from the 17 percent hike proposed in June. The draft proposal must now be approved by the airline’s pilot union.
Earlier this year, pilots from Alaska Airlines had voted to authorize a strike. The workers have reached a new agreement with the airline.
This month, FedEx Express pilots and the company management announced that they have jointly filed for federal mediation with the NMB for contract negotiations that began in May last year.