10,000 United Airlines pilots vote down new contract ahead of Thanksgiving holiday, reject 14.5% pay raise

Ten thousand United Airlines pilots resoundingly rejected a new contract that would have given them a 14.5 percent pay raise as the holidays approach and they are joined by Delta pilots threatening to strike as well.

(Video Credit: NewsNation)

On Tuesday, the Air Line Pilots Association announced that the group had “overwhelmingly” rejected the contract, with 94 percent voting against it. Delta’s rejection was just as harsh with almost 100 percent voting to reject the offer. The union represents 65,000 pilots from over three dozen companies in the US and Canada.

The union said in a statement that the contract offer “fell short” of what the pilots wanted. Picketing will begin “immediately” following the collapse of negotiations.

Thanksgiving “is undoubtedly the busiest travel time of the year,” according to the Travel Channel. The United Airlines strike will impact travel at a time when airlines are already struggling. This time of year is infamous for delays and cancelations and it seems to get worse every year.

In 2021, approximately 27 million Americans planned to fly over Thanksgiving weekend according to The Vacationer. That’s almost 10 percent of the nation’s population.

In December, AAA reported that 109 million Americans were planning to travel 50 or more miles for the holidays.

United Airlines operates roughly 4,500 flights a day and this is bound to cause headaches for Americans. The airline is one of the biggest ones in the country. It flies to 200 domestic locations which makes it one of the most accessible airlines for many Americans.

The pilots have not called for a strike authorization vote yet. When they do, a decision from the National Mediation Board would be forthcoming. They would have to rule that no further action or negotiations would be productive for the strike to take place.

It is unknown if a strike actually occurs whether it would be before or after Thanksgiving. Either way, it will financially hammer the airline.

“By the Company’s own admission, this agreement missed the mark. That’s why both parties agreed to reengage at the bargaining table for a new, improved agreement,” United Master Executive Council chair Capt. Mike Hamilton asserted. “It is vital United management recognizes that an industry-leading contract is required to hire, train, and retain the best pilots in the world for the United Next growth plan to succeed.”

The Air Line Pilots Association claims that United pilots have “earned and deserve” a better contract “after leading the airline through the pandemic and back to profitability.”

“United pilots are unified and committed to reaching a comprehensive agreement that fully recognizes their contributions to the success of the airline,” union representatives declared Tuesday.

United Airlines’ announcement comes less than a day after Delta pilots voted to move forward with a strike.

The Air Line Pilots Association stated on Monday that “99 percent of Delta pilots authorized union leaders to call a strike, if necessary, to achieve a new contractual agreement with Delta Air Lines.”

The prior contract for Delta pilots was agreed on in 2016.

“Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike. The ball is in management’s court. It’s time for the Company to get serious at the bargaining table and invest in the Delta pilots,” Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta Master Executive Council, stated in a release on October 31.

“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,” he remarked.

Following the decision made by the National Mediation Board, both parties will be offered a chance to arbitrate the contract dispute. A 30-day “cooling off” period will then be entered into if either party declines to arbitrate.

The federal government could also step in if there is a strike.

The average Delta Pilot is paid approximately $157,912 a year. That is reportedly 119 percent above the national average, according to Indeed.

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