Alaska Airlines pilots vote to strike if contract negotiations not resolved

Alaska Airlines pilots picket outside the South Terminal of Ted Stevens Anchorage International...
Alaska Airlines pilots picket outside the South Terminal of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport(Taylor Burke)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 12:35 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Pilots for Alaska Airlines voted Wednesday to authorize their union, the Air Line Pilots Association, to strike if a new contract between them and Alaska Airlines cannot be reached.

In a statement on the Air Line Pilots union website, pilots voted with a “99 percent” approval rate to authorize a strike, although it would likely take at least a month before that happens, according to the legal process to strike. Both the union and Alaska Airlines acknowledged that before a strike can happen, the National Mediation Board must decide that current efforts to come to an agreement are not working and offer arbitration as a way of moving forward.

If neither side agrees to arbitrate, then the mediation board would institute a 30-day “cooling off” period before a strike by the union or lockout by management could be used.

Capt. Will McQuillen, chairman of the Alaska Airlines segment of the Air Line Pilots Association Master Executive Council, said contract negotiations, which have stretched into the third year of talks, have not been productive as pilots have used the usual tactics to settle, including an informational picket in early April.

“For years, we have been working toward a market-based contract with reasonable solutions that address work rules, scheduling flexibility, and career-security issues that pilots at other companies enjoy, not a strike,” McQuillen said. “Now is the time for management to respond and engage constructively at the bargaining table.”

Alaska Airlines responded to the vote by stating that the company’s pilots are not on strike, emphasizing that the two sides must go through a “multi-step process” with the National Mediation Board before a strike can occur.

The company also said that guests and operations will not be impacted by the pilots’ votes.

“We remain committed to reaching a deal to provide an updated contract that is good for Alaska’s pilots,” the statement read.

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