1 of 3 | United Airlines pilots rejected tentative contract agreement on Tuesday, while Delta pilots overwhelmingly approved a strike. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 1 (UPI) -- United Airlines pilots on Tuesday roundly rejected a tentative contract agreement presented to the pilot's group earlier this summer.
The Air Line Pilots Association International said 94% of the 9,980 United pilots participating in the vote rejected the agreement.
"By the company's own admission, this agreement missed the mark," United Master Executive Council Chair Capt. Mike Hamilton said in a union statement. "That's why both parties agreed to re-engage at the bargaining table for a new, improved agreement.
"It is vital United management recognizes that an industry-leading contract is required to hire, train, and retain the best pilots in the world for the United Next growth plan to succeed."
On Monday, thousands of pilots for Delta Air Lines voted to move ahead with a strike if labor union negotiators fail to reach an agreement with the airline on a new contract.
The Air Line Pilots Association has been pushing for a new deal since April 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the talks. Discussions across the industry resumed in January 2022, with pilots demanding better pay as virus lockdown measures eased and airlines bounced back financially.
Monday's vote by 15,000 Delta pilots passed with all but 1% pledging to walk off the job, however, the action did not initiate the strike right away and was also not expected to impact travel over Thanksgiving.
Operations were proceeding as normal Tuesday and no flights have been interrupted due to the latest developments, Delta said in a statement while also citing "significant progress" at the bargaining table.
"ALPA's stated purpose for the vote is simply to gain leverage in our pilot contract negotiations, which continue to progress under the normal process set by the Railway Labor Act in partnership with the National Mediation Board," the statement reads. "We are confident that the parties will reach an agreement that is fair and equitable, as we always have in past negotiations."
Union leaders said previously that employees were continuing to work under an outdated 2016 contract.
Delta might be able to buy some time as federal law prevents any worker stoppage before it is first approved by the federal National Mediation Board, which does not have a timeline to move on the matter.
At airports nationwide, pilots for other carriers like American Airlines, United and Southwest have also picketed in recent weeks, but only pilots at Alaska Airlines have reached an agreement for a new contract after voting on a similar measure to approve a potential strike earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, union leaders for the Delta pilots said they were hopeful that a deal could be reached soon but admitted they were tired of waiting.
"Our negotiations have dragged on for too long," said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, the union's chairman of the Delta master executive council. "The ball is in management's court. It's time for the company to get serious at the bargaining table and invest in the Delta pilots."