On May 25, 2022, the Alaska Airlines pilots overwhelmingly voted “yes” in a strike authorization ballot. The pilots expect to work under the same conditions and with the same career security that pilots at competitor airlines have enjoyed for a decade.
No, the Alaska Airlines pilots are not on strike. Their goal is a new market-based employment contract, not a strike.
Alaska pilots want to fly passengers to their destinations; however, they have been in contract negotiations for three years, which is way too long. It’s time for management to meaningfully address work rules, scheduling flexibility, and career security in line with the way that the airline’s competitors have found workable solutions over the last decade.
The Alaska pilots strike authorization vote closed on May 25. Results showed that the pilots overwhelmingly approved to go on strike when legally allowed to do so.
This multistep process means union leaders officially have been given the authority to call for a withdrawal of services if necessary and when legally permitted to do so. This would happen if negotiations break down and the federal government permits the parties to exercise self-help after the required procedures of the Railway Labor Act have been exhausted.
Alaska Airlines has acknowledged that operational difficulties are not due to pilot actions but instead resulted from its own staffing and training missteps. Despite ALPA warning the company late last year that it did not have enough pilots, management did not properly prepare for the shortfall. And the problem will get worse without a new pilot contract. Alaska won’t retain existing pilots or attract the new pilots needed for growth without a market-based contract. Existing pilots continue to leave Alaska Airlines in record numbers for better career opportunities elsewhere, and prospective pilots have other options in a robust job market.