Delta Air Lines pilots have stepped up their push for better pay, insisting they will strike if they don’t get a new contract.
With 96% of members participating in an Airline Pilots Association union vote, 99% of Delta pilots “authorized union leaders to call a strike, if necessary, to reach a new contract agreement,” the union said.
Delta pilots say they are working under an outdated contract from 2016. ALPA says on-again, off-again contract talks began more than three years ago, and mediation talks resumed in January.
Pilots at other airlines, particularly regional carriers, have negotiated substantial pay increases this year as airlines grapple with a pilot shortage.
“Our negotiations have dragged on for far too long,” Capt. Jason Ambrosi of the Delta chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association said in a statement, noting that the airline posted “record” revenue in the third quarter.
“Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike,” Ambrosi said.
Quitting your job won’t happen immediately. ALPA says a mediation board must first look into the arbitration, then it would enter a 30-day “cooling off” period. That means a strike could not begin before the Thanksgiving travel surge.
CNN asked the union if a strike could affect Christmas travel.
“Delta pilots are not on strike, so this authorization vote will not affect our operations for our customers,” a Delta spokesman said in a statement. “Delta and ALPA have made significant progress in our negotiations and only a few contractual sections remain to be resolved. We are confident that the parties will reach a fair and equitable agreement, as we have always done in past negotiations.”