DALLAS — The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing 15,000 American Airlines (AA) pilots, has announced that most members voted in favor of authorizing a strike.
Voting for the strike started on April 1st and concluded on April 30 at midnight, with 96% of the pilots voting and over 99% voting in favor of authorizing a strike. Albeit, the pilots have approved the strike ahead of a busy summer travel season to pressure American Airlines for a contract. However, it is improbable that the pilots will actually walk off the job.
The APA held the strike authorization even as both sides were closing in on an agreement in principle. On April 4, it was reported that the APA and AA were nearing a new contract. Pilots for the world’s largest carrier last received a pay increase in 2019 and have been attempting to get a new contact.
This strike authorization vote will put pressure on AA to accelerate contract negotiations.
Strike Action Hubs
The APA announced that members would begin conducting informational advocacy from 11 AM through 1 PM at all 10 AA hubs today. These include Charlotte Douglas (CLT), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Boston Logan (BOS), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Miami International (MIA), Los Angeles International (LAX), New York Laguardia (LGA), Washington National (DCA), Philadelphia International (PHL), and Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX).
Although, it would be difficult for AA pilots to actually walk off the job due to complicated labor processes in the United States, making it difficult for airline workers to strike. Under this law, AA pilots are unable to walk off the job if they receive permission from the National Mediation Board.
First, the National Mediation Board needs to conclude that other mediation efforts between employees and the airlines will not be effective and will give both sides a chance to arbitrate. If the airline or the employees decline, both sides go into a 30-day period where they can cool off, and only then can both sides strike, which will be by the union or a lockout by airline management.
The last time a pilot strike occurred at a United States airline was when Spirit Airlines’ (NK) pilot struck in 2010.
Comments from APA President
The APA President, Captain Sicher, commented, “The APA membership has spoken. We will strike if necessary to secure the industry-leading contract that our pilots have earned and deserve – a contract that will position American Airlines for success…With more than 99 percent of participating pilots voting in favor of authorizing a strike, our pilots’ resolve is unmistakable. We will not be deterred from our goal of an industry-leading contract.”
Adding, “The summer travel season is almost here, and we’re all wondering whether this will be another summer of uncertainty for American Airlines…Fortunately, there is an alternative. By embracing the win-win scheduling and work rule improvements APA has presented at the bargaining table, management can take steps to improve the airline’s operational reliability and efficiency.”
This comes after Delta Air Lines (DL) pilots approved a new contract in March. The contract approved, increased pilots’ pay will increase by 34%, amounting to US$7bn in a cumulative increase in pay over the next four years. In response, AA and United Airlines (UA) have promised “industry-leading” contacts for their pilots.
Featured image: American Airlines pilots at MIA. Photo: Brandon Wade/American Airlines