Delays and cancelations haven’t been rare for airlines in the United States over the past year. Staff shortages have meant a single issue, like a power outage or a hurricane, could spark a cascade of scheduling problems across the country. However, unlike in Europe, no carrier has had to deal with a work stoppage yet. Delta could be dealing with a pilots’ strike in the near future.
Delta Air Lines pilots can now vote against or for authorizing a strike. The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 14,600 Delta pilots, has been negotiating with Delta since February 2020. Talks were paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Negotiations resumed at the start of the year, but both sides have failed to reach an agreement.
Captain Jason Ambrosi, Chair of the Delta ALPA Master Executive Council, said in a statement:
“This is a crucial step in our efforts to secure a comprehensive, industry-leading contract. We do not make a decision like this lightly. However, we are long overdue for a new agreement. We intend to send management a strong message that Delta’s 14,600 pilots are willing to go the distance to achieve the contract we have earned.”
“We have made progress in some sections of our contract but are now just discussing the high-value items. This spring and summer, Delta pilots flew record amounts of overtime to help Delta operate its overly ambitious schedule. We are tired of management’s empty platitudes. It’s time for Delta to get serious at the bargaining table.”
The ballot window for Delta pilots closes on October 31st at 2:00 p.m. ET. It is not inevitable that the vote will result in a strike if the pilots vote to authorize a work stoppage. The National Mediation Board would make itself available to arbitrate the dispute. If that fails, there would be a 30-day cooling-off period, similar to what took place before the adverted railroad strike.