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Off-duty Delta pilots picketing amid scheduling delays, stalled labor talks

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Off-duty Delta pilots picketing amid scheduling delays, stalled labor talks
Off-duty pilots for Delta Air Lines picket outside Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Thursday, ahead of the busy long weekend amid stalled contract talks and what they say are major scheduling issues. Photo by Delta ALPA Master Executive Council

June 30 (UPI) -- Off-duty pilots for Delta Air Lines picketed outside multiple U.S. airports Thursday, ahead of the busy, long July 4 weekend.

Delta pilots "took an unprecedented step in passing a vote of 'no confidence' in Delta for scheduling issues that have impacted customers & pilots. Time for a new industry-leading pilot contract & a better @Delta," the Delta Air Lines Pilot's Association Master Executive Council said on Twitter.

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"The @Delta_Pilots are continuing informational picketing at @flySEA to protest @Delta's scheduling mismanagement/delays at the negotiating table. We demand an industry-leading contract now!," the executive said on Twitter.

The protests come amid stalled contract talks between the company and its pilots, who say they are working longer hours despite countless flight cancellations across the country.

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Thousands of flights have been canceled and tens of thousands of people have been delayed because of staffing shortages amid a resurgence in air travel.

In addition to Seattle, off-duty pilots are scheduled to attend "informational pickets" Friday outside airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Salt Lake City and New York City's JFK International Airport.

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Delta pilots are continuing to work under their last collective labor agreement, signed in 2016, and say they are due better compensation, especially given the way the aviation industry is rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Delta pilots were frontline leaders during COVID and the recovery. We have helped our airline recover by flying record amounts of overtime and spending more time away from our families than ever before to get our customers safely to their destinations," Delta ALPA Master Executive Council chair Capt. Jason Ambrosi said in a statement.

"It's time for management to recognize our contributions. If Delta can invest billions in foreign airlines and its subsidiaries, it must invest similarly in its pilots.

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"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," Ambrosi said.

The two sides suspended negotiations in January under the auspices of the National Mediation Board.

In addition to pay and retirement issues, the union is also demanding changes to pilot schedules which it says are partly to blame for ongoing flight disruptions.

"The perfect storm is occurring. Demand is back, and pilots are flying record amounts of overtime but we are still seeing management cancelling, leaving our customers stranded and their holiday plans ruined. Unfortunately, this mismanagement continues. And it extends to a complete lack of urgency to resolve our issues at the negotiating table," said Ambrosi.

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