Pilots for Delta Air Lines voted to approve a new contract with significant pay raises and improved benefits, bringing to close negotiations that had been delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agreement approved on Wednesday will give Delta’s 15,000 pilots a 34% increase in pay raises over the next four years, costing the company about $7 billion. It also contains policy changes aimed at improving pilots’ quality of life, vacations and other benefits.
“This industry-leading contract is the direct result of the Delta pilots’ unity and resolve,” Darren Hartmann, a pilot and union official who chairs the Delta Master Executive Council, said in a release. “Despite a two-year delay in negotiations due to COVID, we never lost sight of our goal to obtain significant across-the-board enhancements to our pilot working agreement.”
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Delta pilots had picketed in the spring and summer of 2022 to raise awareness of their negotiations with corporate leadership, and 99% of the pilots represented by the company’s union – Air Line Pilots Association, International – voted in October 2022 to authorize a strike, if necessary.
According to Air Line Pilots Association, International, 78% of the Delta pilots who voted on the contract were in favor of its approval.
John Laughter, Delta’s chief of operations, said the new contract “recognizes our pilots’ contributions to Delta” and added that the airline sought to reach a deal that keeps Delta as a top destination for workers in the aviation industry.
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The contract will take effect Thursday, March 2. While federal law requires that union contracts in the airline industry don’t expire, the contract will become amendable on Dec. 31, 2026.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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