Delta pilots picket at MSP over contract negotiations

Delta pilots picketing at MSP.
Delta pilots picketing at MSP.(KARE11)
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 1:38 PM CDT
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MINNEAPOLIS (KARE11) - Delta Air Lines pilots are holding informational pickets at major airport hubs across the country Thursday to protest their protracted contract negotiations.

Hundreds of off duty pilots are picketing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. outside Terminal 1. Protests are also happening in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Salt Lake.

According to the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents nearly 14,000 Delta pilots, Delta pilots last signed a new employment contract in 2016 and are working under rules and pay rates negotiated six years ago. Contract negotiations resumed in 2022 after being paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ALPA says Delta pilots are looking for pay improvements, better retirement benefits, job protections and changes to pilot schedules.

“This is an important milestone for the Delta pilots,” Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta ALPA Master Executive Council said in a statement. “It’s been two-and-a-half years since our contract became amendable and three-and-a-half years since the Delta pilots last had a pay raise. Meanwhile, our quality of life has eroded due to management’s unwillingness to schedule the airline properly.”

The picket comes ahead of what’s expected to be an incredibly busy holiday travel weekend. In a statement, a Delta spokesperson said the “informational exercise” will not disrupt flight operations.

“Earlier this year, Delta, ALPA, and a representative from the National Mediation Board restarted our mediated contract negotiations that had been paused for almost two years due to the pandemic. Our goal remains to continue providing Delta pilots with an industry-leading overall contract with the best compensation based on pay, retirement, work rules, and profit sharing. We’re also committed to making sure the contract language supports our ability to run a world-class operation, maintain a strong balance sheet, and invest in our business for our customers and employees alike,” the statement continued.

On June 28, Delta issued a systemwide travel waiver for people with flights booked from July 1-4 in an attempt to alleviate flight disruptions over the Fourth of July.

In an email to Delta customers Thursday morning, CEO Ed Bastian apologized for recent widespread travel disruptions that have impacted travelers over the last several months. “If you’ve encountered delays and cancellations recently, I apologize. We’ve spent years establishing Delta as the industry leader in reliability, and though the majority of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable,” he said.

READ Ed Bastian’s entire message to customers HERE

Still, Delta is reportedly struggling to staff flights ahead of the busy Fourth of July holiday weekend. As of Thursday morning, local travel site Thrifty Traveler reported that hundreds of Delta flights still don’t have assigned pilots, according to an airline employee familiar with internal scheduling.

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