The International Association of Machinists is seeking for federal mediators to declare a 30-day cooling off period, after which about 15,000 mechanics and 30,000 customer service employees, ramp workers and other members at the airline would be allowed to strike. The National Mediation Board, which oversees labor relations in the airline and railroad industries, has thus far declined to start the clock towards such a deadline.
Association of Flight Attendants has vowed to stage a series of random strikes and job actions to disrupt operations if United parent UAL Corp. closes on its purchase of US Airways Group without reaching a new labor agreement with the union. The airline argues such job actions would be illegal under their existing contract and has vowed legal action to prevent such disruptions.
The National Mediation Board, which oversees labor relations in the airline and railroad industries, on May 23 offered binding arbitration to both management and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. Management accepted the offer, but if the APFA rejects the offer, the NMB would declare a 30-day cooling-off period, after which the flight attendants could go on strike without a contract agreement. The APFA membership has already authorized a strike. While it is rare for unions to accept binding arbitration, it is still possible the two sides could reach an agreement during the cooling off period. President Bush would also be authorized to order the flight attendants to stay on the job while a presidential emergency board considers the matter once the cooling off period expires.
The airline's contract with Allied Pilots Association, which represents its pilots, becomes open for negotiation of a new deal later this summer.
The airline's operations are being affected by a strike by the Air Line Pilots Association at its Comair Inc. feeder airline subsidiary, which started March 26. All Comair strikes through at least July 24 have been cancelled and the airline has disposed of 37 of its aircraft and laid-off most of its non-striking employees. About half of the 25,000 daily passengers who were flying Comair under the name Delta Connection were connecting to or from Delta flights, mostly in its hubs in Orlando, Fla., and Cincinnati. There are no new talks scheduled in this dispute.
ALPA members at Delta itself are in the process of voting on a tentative labor agreement reached a month ago. Results of that vote are expected by June 20. If the rank and file members vote to reject the deal, a strike could start a week later, although intervention by President Bush to keep the pilots working appears likely.