DALLAS – It’s not a strike yet, but the pilots’ union at Delta Air Lines (DL) is upping the ante in labor talks by starting a strike authorization vote. The action is meant to send a message to management amid contract negotiations.
An article on ajc.com today says that in August the union at Delta, the ALPA, OK’d the strike authorization vote which would take place “at the appropriate time.” That time appeared to be Friday as the union opened the ballot saying that an offer presented by Delta management on Wednesday fell “substantially short” of expectations.
Delta pilots can vote on the measure through October 31.
“While approving a strike ballot does not mean a strike is imminent, it clearly sends the message that the Delta pilots are willing to go the distance to get the contract we’ve earned and deserve,” according to Jason Ambrosi, head of the Air Line Pilots Association union at Delta. Over the summer, Delta pilots held informational pickets at Hartsfield-Jackson and other airports this year to push.
The AJC article notes that the rebound in post-pandemic travel has strained Delta and other airlines. ALPA has raised concerns over staffing issues, which it says have driven flight disruptions, what with pilots working fatiguing schedules and more overtime.
The union went so far as to write an open letter to customers noting the “unacceptable” situation and saying that its pilots shared passengers’ frustration over the widespread delays and cancellations early in the summer season.
Delta issued a statement saying its pilots are not on strike, “so this authorization vote will not affect our operation for our customers.”
Proposal Doesn’t Come Close
In a memo to pilots on Friday Ambrosi said that Wednesday’s proposal from management “does not even come close to alleviating the impact of inflation on pilot purchasing power over the thousand-plus days since the amendable date nor does it recognize the extraordinary efforts of the Delta pilots over the last several years.”
The article says that ALPA declined to give specifics on the proposal from management. National Mediation Board protocol prevents both sides from discussing details related to pay or compensation proposals until there is a tentative agreement.
“This is a common NMB practice during the end-game of most mediated negotiations,” Ambrosi wrote. The National Mediation Board is handling mediation in the Delta pilots’ contract talks.
In the memo, Ambrosi asked pilots to support the strike authorization ballot and send a message to management that Delta pilots “will not stand for meager economic proposals.”
“Your Negotiating Committee would not ask for a vote in favor unless this additional leverage was needed to get our negotiations over the finish line,” he added. “With the compensation proposal management just slid across the table, there is no indication that Delta values its pilots as the best in the industry, or recognition that Delta is significantly more profitable than its competitors.”
“Delta and ALPA have made significant progress in our negotiations and have resolved more than the majority of contract sections,” the company said in a written statement. “We are confident that the parties will reach a consensual deal that is fair and equitable, as we always have in past negotiations.”
Featured image: Delta Air Lines