Pilots at Delta Air Lines have voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing strike action in a dispute with the Atlanta-based carrier over protracted contract talks that have been dragging on for more than two years.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) which represents 15,000 Delta Air pilots said on Monday afternoon that more than 96 percent of its members turned out to take part in the poll and of those, 99 percent voted in favor of authorizing strike action.
A walkout could have the potential to cripple the airline but any possible strike action is still a long way off, and many analysts see these types of ballot as a negotiating tactic rather than a credible threat.
Before pilots can take part in any form of industrial action, the union must go to the National Mediation Board and officially declare that negotiations with the airline have broken down.
If the NMB agreed with the union, the two sides would then be released into a 30-day cooling-off period before being invited back for a period of mediation.
If this last-ditch attempt to broker a truce fails, the federal government could then authorize the union to go ahead with strike action.
“Today, Delta’s 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,” commented Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta Master Executive Council on Monday.
“Delta has rebounded from the pandemic and is poised to be stronger than ever, posting record revenues for the third quarter. Meanwhile, our negotiations have dragged on for too long.”
The pilots union last negotiated a contract with Delta in 2016 and pay rates and other contract provisions remain stuck in 2016. Although the contract became amendable in 2019, the two sides agreed to suspend talk during the pandemic before restarting mediated talks in January.
Under the Railway Labor Act, union contracts don’t expire but just become amendable after a certain date.
Earlier this year, pilots at Alaska Airways also overwhelmingly voted in favor of authorizing strike action before a new contract was hammered out between the airline and the pilots union.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.