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Delta pilots authorize strike, but walkout remains unlikely – Chicago Tribune

Delta Air Lines pilots have voted to authorize union leaders to call a strike, but it may be a largely symbolic gesture as hurdles remain before pilots can legally walk off the job.

The Airline Pilots Association said Monday that 96% of Delta pilots took part in the vote and 99% of those in favor of going on strike “if necessary” to win a new contract.

Airline unions are seeking significant wage increases and may have leverage due to labor shortages as travel resumes.

Atlanta-based Delta said the vote would not affect its flights.

The airline said the union’s goal was “simply to gain leverage in negotiating our pilot contract.” Delta said it had made significant progress in negotiations, with only a few sections of the contract outstanding, and expressed confidence in reaching an agreement.

Last week, American Airlines offered its pilots a 19% pay raise over two years, an offer that could serve as a model for negotiations at Delta and United Airlines. Leaders of the American Union have not yet decided whether to send this proposal to a ratification vote.

Delta pilots are employed at pay rates established in 2016. Negotiations for a new contract began in April 2019, were suspended in March 2020 due to the pandemic, and resumed in January.

Under federal law, airline employment contracts do not expire. Before workers can legally strike, federal mediators must determine that further negotiations are futile. Even then, the president and Congress can step in to block a strike.


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