Alaska Airlines pilots to conduct strike-authorization vote starting Monday
BY FRANK SUMRALL
After years of failed contract negotiations, the pilot union’s leaders at Alaska Airlines unanimously voted to conduct a strike-authorization ballot among their pilots that opens May 9 and closes May 25.
“This means union leaders are officially requesting the Alaska Airlines pilot group, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association International, give them the authority to go on strike when they are legally permitted to do so,” a news release from ALPA said.
A strike will only happen if negotiations break down and the federal government authorizes a walkout.
Once passed by the pilots, the vote will authorize the pilot leadership to declare a strike when the group is given permission to do so by the National Mediation Board.
“Alaska pilots are not looking to strike. We are looking for improvements to our contract in line with the market but that will also allow our company to grow and remain successful and competitive,” said Capt. Will McQuillen, chairman of the Alaska Airlines ALPA MEC. “However, we are willing to take any lawful steps necessary, including a legal strike, to achieve the contract every Alaska pilot has earned.”
This strike-authorization vote comes during a pilot shortage that has caused hundreds of flight cancellations for the airline.
“Before a strike could take place, the National Mediation Board would have to release the two sides from mediation. Then, after a 30-day cooling-off period, both parties could exercise self-help—including a strike by the union or a lockout by the company,” the ALPA news release said.
The airline continues to experience cancellations, including 31 that were canceled at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Saturday and 45 on Sunday.