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Wed, Apr 05, 2006

Delta Pilots Overwhelmingly OK Strike

First The Rage, Now The Fury

Last week, Delta pilots staged a series of practice strikes throughout the nation, most notably at the airline's home airport in Atlanta. That was, we reported at the time, a demonstration of pilots' outrage against threatened pay cuts by Delta management.

If that was rage, union leaders say Tuesday's announcement that Delta pilots have voted to authorize a strike by a whopping majority -- 94.7 percent, according to the Air Line Pilots Association -- should be taken as a sign of impending fury.

"The results of this ballot will send the strongest message yet that if Delta's senior executives are successful in their misguided attempt to reject our contract, we will strike," union executive committee chairman Lee Moak wrote in a memo to pilots, according to the Associated Press.

"All too often over the past months, management has attempted to mischaracterize the defense of our contract as posturing, gamesmanship and, most recently, saber-rattling," Moak added. "They are wrong."

At issue is Delta's request to toss out its existing contract with pilots, thus forcing deep pay cuts that management has been unable to obtain from pilots at the bargaining table. Delta's request is currently before an arbitration panel that must decide on the request by April 15.

An airline spokesman attempted to put the best face he could on the strike vote, stating Delta continues to work towards a mutual deal with the pilots union.

"Together with our pilots and all of our employees we remain focused on our No. 1 priority, which is taking good care of our customers," said Delta spokesman Bruce Hicks.

A strike by its pilots would likely put Delta -- in bankruptcy since last September -- out of business.

FMI: www.delta.com, www.alpa.org

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