Following more than three years of discussions and a strike authorization vote by unhappy pilots, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and Alaska management have finally reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement that pilots at Alaska Airlines will vote on.
The pilots’ union claimed that the tentative agreement solves a number of “important” issues that have caused Alaska to lag behind its competitors, including a significant wage increase, more job security, and quality-of-life enhancements like flexible schedules.
According to the union, the agreement has undergone “great improvement” and now complies with “industry norms,” which will result in a large number of pilots seeing their compensation rates rise by between 14 and 23 percent.
“We are pleased, after three years, that we have reached an agreement addressing all the areas in which we’ve lagged our mainline carrier pilot peers for nearly a decade,” said Captain Will McQuillen, chair of the Alaska Airlines ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC) on Friday.
“Not only does this agreement recognize the crucial role pilots have played in the success of Alaska Airlines, it will also help our airline remain competitive in the industry.”
After protracted and acrimonious negotiations seemed to stall in May, Alaska’s 3,100 pilots voted resoundingly in support of approving strike action. Even though Pilot were still a long way from having the legal right to strike, the vote appeared to be sufficient to force the parties into mediation.
The ALPA union, which is facing a national pilot shortage, had warned Alaska that if the airline didn’t drastically improve compensation and conditions, it would find it difficult to attract and retain pilots.
Although the ballot may not be completed for several months, pilots will soon be able to vote on the accord.