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Comair to vote on deal
May 4, 2001: 7:19 p.m. ET

Union officials say pilots of Delta feeder airline to vote on mediator proposal
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Forty days after launching a strike, union leaders for Comair pilots said Friday they will let Comair's 1,400 pilots vote on a settlement proposed by federal mediators.

But the union stopped short of saying they are endorsing the proposal, and declined to give details of the offer.

Federal mediators had proposed a settlement offer to the pilots union and management at Comair Inc., the Delta Air Lines feeder airline that has been grounded by a strike since March 26.

The statement from the National Mediation Board, which oversees labor relations in the airline and railroad industry, said that it had presented a settlement offer to the two sides Thursday.

Management and negotiators from the Air Line Pilots Association recessed Thursday after nine days of talks, the first discussions between the two since the start of the strike.

Jim Evans, a Comair pilot and a spokesman for the union, said that ALPA's master executive council, or MEC, confirmed the meetings Friday, but he couldn't give any details of what's in the NMB's proposal.

A spokesman for Comair, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta (DAL: up $0.06 to $44.96, Research, Estimates) would only confirm that it was also considering the offer.

The strike has grounded the feeder airline that carried 25,000 passengers on more than 800 daily flights, about half of them under the name Delta Connection. The airline connected with Delta flights at its hubs in Orlando, Fla., and Cincinnati, and the first five days of the strike cost the nation's No. 3 airline about $24 million in revenue and about $14.7 million in income in the second quarter, which included five days of the strike.

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President Bush has declined to intervene in the strike by ordering the pilots back to work while a "presidential emergency board" weighs the dispute and makes recommendation of a settlement.

But the threat of such action still remains, and that may be pressuring the union to accept an offer from mediators that they would not accept from management.

The talks come in the wake of an April 22 settlement agreement between ALPA and Delta that averted the threat of a strike at the mainline airline that could have started April 29. That tentative accord won the support of ALPA's executive council at Delta late Wednesday and now awaits a ratification vote by rank-and-file members. graphic