Pilot unions reject proposed contracts, seek better work-life balance: It’s ‘more than just money’

Within days of each other, American pilots’ unions and United Airlines rejected proposed contracts from their carriers, and Delta pilots authorized a strike if necessary to secure a new contract.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), the authorized collective bargaining agent for all American Airlines pilots, announced Wednesday that its board of directors rejected the US proposal, which would have raised pilots’ pay by 19% over two years.

United Airlines votes to reject contract offer ‘categorically’

A pilot walks through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. (Ilya Novellag/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

“Our pilots have told us in the past, and they reassured us today that this is more than just money. Money is coming. This is about scheduling and work-life balance,” a trader told FOX Business. “It literally comes down to being able to make your own schedule, so you know when you can do what you want to do with your family.”

Delta Pilots Association spokesman Evan Bach told FOX Business that Delta pilots, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), worked a record amount of overtime this summer.

“We worked longer days,” he said. “We’ve spent less time with our families and are working overtime to get Delta customers safely to their destination.”

American Pilots Association rejects payment offer

Like Americans, Bach said they are working towards an industry-leading comprehensive contract, and while compensation is a large part of that, they are also looking for improved working conditions, job security, retirement benefits and insurance.


Pilots talk as they look at the tail of an American Airlines plane at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on February 14, 2013. (Reuters/Mike Stone/Reuters Photo)

In fact, that was one of the reasons the Alaska Airlines pilots, who are also represented by the ALPA, voted last month to ratify a new three-year contract.

The new contract, which was widely supported by pilots, included “significant improvements including: increased pay, greater flexibility, better benefits and stronger job security,” according to the ALPA.

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United Airlines

A United Airlines Holdings Inc pilot passes the check-in counter at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, on Thursday, October 1, 2020. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

“When we looked at the Alaska Convention, we were amazed to see their work-life balance achievements, and we were just encouraged by our strength to say, ‘We can do it, and we will do it with management,'” Merchant said.

He added that building employees and creating a better work-life balance would not only create a more reliable airline and help the company fly more planes, but would also attract future pilots.

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A spokesman for Chicago-based United said the outcome of the vote was expected after the airline and the union identified problems with the June proposal. He said the two sides are working on a new industrial pilot agreement that is expected to include better wage rates and other improvements.

Meanwhile, Delta told FOX Business that it is confident, having achieved significant progress in negotiationsthat both parties will reach a “fair and equitable” agreement.

Representatives for American Airlines did not respond to a FOX Business request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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