Delta Air Lines pilots have until today to approve a tentative agreement on temporary pay cuts their union worked out with management to...
ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines pilots have until today to approve a tentative agreement on temporary pay cuts their union worked out with management to help the bankrupt carrier deal with an expected cash crunch.
If the pilots don’t approve the measure, a court hearing would resume around Tuesday on Delta’s effort to reject the pilot contract so the company can impose $325 million in permanent pay and benefit cuts unilaterally. A decision by a judge could be issued within seven days of that point.
Before the agreement was reached earlier this month, the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents Delta’s 6,000 pilots, had threatened to call a strike if the pilot contract was thrown out.
A spokeswoman for the nation’s third-largest carrier said Tuesday she can’t speculate on the outcome of today’s vote.
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“This is a process that really needs to take its course,” said Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin. “The agreement really reflects the resolve of Delta employees who are working together to help save the company.”
Union spokesman John Culp said there’s no telling how the vote will turn out.
“Not a clue,” Culp said when asked about the vote. “We know there’s a great deal of anger out there with the way management has conducted themselves and the state of the business. We have absolutely no inkling how the vote will go.”
Keith Rosenkranz, a Delta pilot based in Atlanta who has worked for the company for 15 years, said he plans to vote for the temporary pay cuts based on union leaders’ recommendations.
“Nobody likes a pay cut, but I support our union and they’ve asked for this vote and more time so they can negotiate with the company,” Rosenkranz, who regularly flies international routes to Europe and South America, said in a telephone interview.
He acknowledged that there is a vocal group of Delta pilots who could vote ‘no.’
“There are a lot of people that are upset,” Rosenkranz said. “I certainly understand their feelings. Some are so beaten down by management they feel they need to make a stand against that and the only way to do that is to vote ‘no.’ “
He added that he believes the temporary pay cut will pass.
“I don’t want to sound unsympathetic to the naysayers,” Rosenkranz said. “A part of me agrees with their feelings. But I’m basically following what the leadership of the union says.”
The tentative agreement includes a 14 percent across-the-board wage cut for pilots and reductions in other pilot pay and cost items equal to an additional 1 percent hourly wage reduction.
If the interim agreement is approved by rank-and-file pilots, the company and union will try to hammer out a comprehensive agreement by March. If they can’t, the sides have agreed to let the decision be made by a three-person arbitration panel.