Delta Air Lines pilots overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike on Monday if a new contract agreement with the carrier is not reached.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents the pilots, said 99% voted to call a strike if necessary, with the vast majority of its members participating.
Nearly 15,000 pilots sent a clear message to management that we are willing to go the distance to secure a contract that reflects the value we bring to Delta Air Lines as frontline leaders and long-term stakeholders,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, who chairs Delta’s pilot union.
A strike wouldn’t be immediate and it would require permissions from the federal National Mediation board. The Air Line Pilots Association union said it wants a contract, not a strike.
Covid derailed contract talks throughout the airline industry starting in 2020. Talks have since resumed, and the Delta pilot strike vote underscores the difficulty in getting agreements through.
Pilots for U.S. carriers like Delta and competitors American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlineshave have recently picketed at major airports to demand better contracts as the industry returns to profitability.
“Meanwhile, our negotiations have dragged on for too long. Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta master executive council of the Air Line Pilots Association. “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.”
Delta said the vote won’t affect its operation, since the pilots are not on strike, and that the carrier and union have made “significant progress” in their talks.
“ALPA’s stated purpose for the vote is simply to gain leverage in our pilot contract negotiations, which continue to progress under the normal process set by the Railway Labor Act and in partnership with the National Mediation Board,” the airline said in a statement. “We are confident that the parties will reach an agreement that is fair and equitable, as we always have in past negotiations.”
Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines pilots voted to authorize a potential strike. Pilots for that airline recently reached a new contract agreement with the company.
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