American Airlines pilots voted to authorize a strike, which increases pressure on the airline to reach a new deal with the pilots’ union but is highly unlikely to result in an imminent walkout.
More than 96% of the Allied Pilots Association’s 15,000 members cast ballots, and among those who did, 99% supported allowing the union to call for a strike, the organization reported on Monday.
Federal law forbids airline unions from going on strike without the implicit endorsement of a U.S. mediation board, a rare occurrence that has not happened in this instance. If a strike seems likely, Congress and the president may take action to stop it.
However, airline unions enjoy voting to strike because they believe it gives them more negotiating power.
According to a representative for the airline, America is sure it can rapidly agree with the union.
“We respect the message of voting results,” said the spokeswoman, Sarah Jantz, “and we understand that a strike-authorization vote is one of the important ways pilots express their desire to reach a deal.”
American and United Airlines are pressured to meet or surpass the conditions competitor Delta Air Lines accepted with its pilots earlier this year. The pilots of Delta Air Lines earned 34% raises during a four-year deal.
The American Pilots’ Association announced that it is also pushing for modifications to the schedule that, according to union leaders, will increase productivity and avoid the kind of significant delays and cancellations seen last summer.
The summer travel season is almost here, and we’re all wondering whether this will be another summer of uncertainty for American Airlines,” union President Ed Sicher said.
American pilots planned to picket later Monday at airports around the country.