Pilots for Delta Air Lines on Monday voted to authorize a strike as contract talks between its union and the airline continue to erode.
Contract discussions, or lack thereof, have been an ongoing problem in the industry as the COVID-19 pandemic crippled airlines and negotiations became a secondary issue. But with the surging demand for travel having returned this year, the talks are again front and center.
Several other airlines have reached agreements with their respective pilots’ unions, including American, United and Alaska Airlines.
“Meanwhile, our negotiations have dragged on for too long. Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike,” Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta master executive council of the Air Line Pilots Association, told CNBC in an interview. “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 pilots and their counterparts at other airlines have picketed at airports across the country to draw attention to their lack of contracts and the issues of scheduling and being overworked. Although talk of strikes sounds ominous, nothing is imminent for the Delta pilots as any strike would need to be signed off by the National Mediation Board.
Pilots are frustrated by the amount of time the contract negotiations have taken. The process for Delta began in 2020, just as the pandemic hit. Delta told CNBC it believes it is making progress with the union.
“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.”
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