American Airlines is currently negotiating a new contract with its pilots’ union, the Allied Pilots Association. The talks have lasted over three years, and the airline offered the union a contract last October. However, the deal was rejected in a vote by the union’s membership, and labor relations at the major passenger carrier have rapidly declined since. The relationship continues to decline, as last week, the union’s Philadelphia domicile leadership strongly recommended that American Airlines’ pilots leave for Delta Air Lines.
The provocative message was signed by Paul DiOrio and Kevin Wilkes, the chair and vice chair of the Allied Pilots Association’s Philadelphia domicile. The leader opened with how little money American Airlines pilots make in comparison to their Delta counterparts. The Atlanta-based carrier also shares 20 percent of its profits with its pilots while American pilots see less than 10 percent. Reuters reported October’s rejected contract would have offered a pay increase to equal Delta. The pair expect American Airlines’ pay to match Delta’s initially under the new contract. Though, the primary concern is firmly about working conditions.
The message notes that the new contract would have pilots “spending the next 25-35 years of your life working with horrific work rules and little scheduling flexibility.” The most shocking part of the message comes shortly after and is appropriately in all caps, “APPLY TO DELTA NOW AS A PLACEHOLDER.” The rapid career advancement at Delta is praised with an anecdote of a pilot recently reaching captain after being hired just last August. The message’s tone comes off as one part earnest suggestion and one part bargaining tactic.
It should be noted that the message from domicile leadership does include a disclaimer:
“Since the release of the Delta TA, we have been consistently asked by our newer pilots whether they should remain here at American or possibly jump ship and head to the more lucrative and pilot-friendly Delta. While this determination is ultimately the decision of each individual, we can tell these pilots that if the past action by this management is any indication of how things will go, this “cost advantage on the backs of its pilots” management team will not change and will not come close to what Delta pilots enjoy as it pertains to quality of life. Let them prove us wrong.”
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While Delta receives a lot of praise from pilots, conditions aren’t as great at the airline for workers in other positions. Delta’s flight attendants, mechanics and fleet workers aren’t even unionized. Only time will tell how negotiations shake out at American Airlines, but its pilots clearly aren’t hopeful.