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Delta pilots vote to authorize a strike — but don't worry about a disruption (yet)

Nov. 01, 2022
3 min read
Delta pilots vote to authorize a strike — but don't worry about a disruption (yet)
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Delta Air Lines' pilots have resoundingly voted to authorize a strike — but don't worry just yet about your upcoming reservations.

In the results announced Monday, 96% of its union members voted 99% in favor of a strike, according to the pilot union, the Air Line Pilots Association.

The pilots held the vote due to what they say is a glacial pace of contract negotiations. The contract governing Delta's pilots dates to 2016, and became amendable nearly three years ago, in December 2019. Collective bargaining agreements in the airline industry do not expire and instead have an amendable date.

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“Today, Delta’s nearly 15,000 pilots sent a clear message to management that we are willing to go the distance to secure a contract that reflects the value we bring to Delta Air Lines as frontline leaders and long-term stakeholders,” Capt. Jason Ambrosi, the leader of Delta's pilot union, said in a statement.

"Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike," added Ambrosi, who was recently elected ALPA's president and will take office early next year.

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This year, Delta's pilots have held a number of picketing events across the country. Many of the airline's pilots wear lime green lanyards in protest of the prolonged talks.

The strike vote was held against a backdrop of rising inflation — but also an environment in which Delta reported a record quarter of revenue. Contract negotiations are ongoing for pilots at all other major U.S. carriers. Pilots at Alaska Airlines last month voted in favor of ratifying a new contract.

Alaska's pilots earlier this year also voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike — but never actually took that step.

In fact, a a number of things would have to happen for there to actually be a Delta pilot strike.

More: Alaska Airlines pilots vote to authorize a strike, setting stage for a showdown with the airline

First, the National Mediation Board would have to end mediation efforts and offer arbitration. (Delta's pilots and management entered arbitration in 2020, though talks were paused until January of this year.) If arbitration is declined, there is then a 30-day "cooling off" period. At that point, Delta's pilots would be allowed to call the strike. Management could also lock the pilots out — an unlikely step.

Instead, the strike vote is a powerful negotiating tactic wielded by ALPA to get the airline's attention — along with the public's. Given the multiple steps for a strike to actually happen, however, reservations on Delta are safe at this time.

Featured image by MICHAEL M. SANTIAGO/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
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  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
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