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Tue, Sep 19, 2023

ATI Union Leaders Authorize Strike Vote

Reviving 2023’s Most Utilized Negotiation Tactic

Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) union leaders representing Air Transport International (ATI) pilots unanimously voted to afford the chair authority to call for a strike authorization, thereby setting the stage for a possible work-stoppage in the event the National Mediation Board releases the parties to self-help under the Railway Labor Act of 1934.

Air Transport International ALPA Master Executive Council chair Captain Mike Sterling stated: “ATI management’s refusal to acknowledge the damage being done to our brand, reputation, and ability to support our customers by the mass exodus of experienced pilots due to our outdated contract has brought us to this point. For months now, we’ve seen colleagues leaving with the same story: ‘I cannot wait any longer for a contract that respects my value as a professional airline pilot.’” 

ATI and parent company Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) management face a critical decision: come to the table ready to make a deal that recognizes the sacrifices and contributions made by the pilot group for purpose of earning the company the distinction of being the most reliable and largest Amazon air carrier in the world, or continue to deny the value of ATI pilots and watch as the airline bleeds pilots to other carriers that respect and value their pilots, continues to be unable to fill captain vacancies, and fails to support the customers.

Captain Sterling added: “After negotiating for more than three-years, our pilots are fed up. The sluggish mentality of ATSG leadership is driving pilots away from what was once a destination airline. Delivering a contract with much-needed improvements in pay, retirement, and work rules will allow ATI to attract and retain experienced pilots and may polish ATI’s currently tarnished reputation within the industry.”

The authorizing of a strike is the first in a long and complex succession of prerequisites that must be met prior to ATI pilots walking off the job. By making such an authorization in the weeks prior to the onset of the frantic and profitable winter holiday shopping/delivery season, ATI pilots and ALPA jointly exert considerable pressure on ATSG management to assume a more cooperative tenor at the negotiation table.

A strike authorization vote doesn’t guarantee a labor stoppage. Rather, it demonstrates the collective resolve of ATI pilots to strike at the union’s directive to do so. The threat of a strike—and the compounding tragedies of lost revenue, public acrimony, and customer desertion occasioned thereby—is intended to speed up contract talks stretched almost beyond belief into their third year.

The Railway Labor Act, to which the airline industry is beholden, does not allow pilots and other workers deemed essential to national transportation infrastructure to walk off their jobs until federal regulators—dullards called in at the 11th hour to exacerbate animosities—confirm that the two opposing sides of a labor dispute have arrived at an impasse likely to be months or even years in the resolution. Should either side decline arbitration, both parties enter a thirty-day cooling-off period, after which the parties may engage in self-help—which is to say the union may call a strike or the management may undertake a workplace lockout.

Founded in 1931 and representing upwards of 73,000 pilots in the employs of forty U.S. and Canadian airlines, the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) is the world’s largest and most influential pilot union.



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