ATI union leaders approve strike authorisation
19 / 09 / 2023
Union leaders representing the pilots of Wilmington-based cargo airline Air Transport International (ATI) have approved strike authorisation as talks over a new working agreement continue.
The vote would give the union chair the authority to call for industrial action.
There are no current plans to strike and there are additional steps the pilot group would need to take before launching industrial action.
The National Mediation Board must first decide that additional mediation efforts would not be productive and offer the parties an opportunity to arbitrate the contract dispute.
If either side declines the arbitration, both parties enter a 30-day “cooling off” period, after which the parties can engage in self-help — a strike by the union or a lockout by management.
The union claims that pilots are leaving the ATSG-owned airline in favour of jobs with better pay and conditions.
“ATI management’s refusal to acknowledge the damage being done to our brand, reputation, and ability to support our customers by the mass exodus of experienced pilots due to our outdated contract has brought us to this point,” said Mike Sterling, chair of the ATI master executive council of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents ATI pilots.
“For months now, we’ve seen colleagues leaving with the same story: ‘I cannot wait any longer for a contract that respects my value as a professional airline pilot.’”
Negotiations started around three years ago. The airline is perhaps most well known as e-commerce giant Amazon’s largest carrier.
“Delivering a contract with much-needed improvements in pay, retirement, and work rules will allow ATI to attract and retain experienced pilots and may polish ATI’s currently tarnished reputation within the industry,” added Sterling.
Under the Railway Labor Act, there are additional steps should the pilot group vote to authorise a strike.