If a new contract cannot be agreed upon, Delta Air Lines pilots have endorsed union officials’ decision to call a strike.
The present pay rates and perks were agreed back in 2016, according to their union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), who said that a contract was long overdue.
“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,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta Master Executive Council, in an ALPA statement on October 31, 2022.
In the strike authorization vote, over 96% of members took part, with 99% supporting union officials’ right to call a strike if required, according to ALPA.
Pilot contracts are now being negotiated by many major US carriers, and the lack of competent crews is contributing to higher salary expectations.
As an illustration, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) has presented its pilots with a new contract that provides a two-year, 19% wage raise.
According to ALPA, Delta has recovered from the pandemic and generated record third-quarter income.
“Meanwhile, our negotiations have dragged on for too long,” Ambrosi said. “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.”
In April 2019, negotiations for a new contract at Delta had first begun. Since a deal couldn’t be reached, mediation got underway in February 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic however caused a two-year hiatus in those negotiations, which were again resumed in January 2022.
However, the National Mediation Board must first decide that future mediation efforts would be ineffective and provide arbitration before Delta pilots can go on strike. A 30-day “cooling down” period begins if either party declines, after which the union can only go on strike.
There have already been a number of strikes in connection with pay negotiations in the summer of 2023 due to staff shortages in the aviation industry globally. Both ground staff and flight crew at the German airline firm Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) have gone on strike, and French air traffic controllers have joined them.