Union pilots recently voted for a strike authorization, but both parties are working to prevent it.
American Airlines pilots at Boston’s Logan International Airport joined a group of more than 2,000 across the country on an information picket Monday, according to a spokesman for the pilots’ union.
Pilots gathered outside Logan as well as at nine other airports to raise awareness of efforts to negotiate new pilot contracts.
The picket decision came after an overwhelming vote by the majority of the 15,000-member Allied Pilots Association in favor of a strike, should negotiations fail, according to union spokesman Capt. Dennis Tajer, a Chicago-based pilot. Tajer said it’s not too late for the airline and pilots to reach an agreement, but “man, the clock is ticking.”
He said he doesn’t want passengers to have to go through a repeat of last summer, with all airlines canceling flights. But currently, he said, things look just as bleak.
“We are telling the world that management is putting pressure on American Airlines to go on strike,” he said. “We’re here to get management’s attention in these final stages of negotiations, to work quickly with us so we can save summer for passengers.”
Gregg Overman, the union’s communications director, said more steps need to be taken before a strike, including outside intervention, but he hopes it won’t come to that.
“We are confident that the proposals we have made at the negotiating table will contribute to a more efficient and reliable American Airlines,” he said.
In an email to Boston.com, American Airlines said it is also “confident” that an agreement can be reached between the pilots and the company quickly.
“The finish line is in sight,” the company wrote. “We understand that a strike authorization vote is one of the important ways pilots express their desire to reach an agreement, and we respect the message of the vote results.”
The company added that the strike authorization does not “change our commitment or distract us from working expeditiously to complete a deal.”
“We remain focused on completing the handful of issues necessary to reach a settlement our pilots deserve.
Contract negotiations have lasted four years, Overman said, so he understands the frustration of the pilots. At this point, he said, the demands are less about wages and more about ensuring a better quality of life for employees.
Overman said a major goal is to give pilots more control over their schedules.
“Pilot schedules are very unpredictable and it makes it difficult for pilots and their families to plan for some semblance of quality of life,” he said.
He added that American Airlines should follow other carriers in adopting new contracts to meet the needs of pilots. He pointed to other airlines, including Delta, that have already gone through their contract negotiations.
Tajer said the union takes the “responsibility to at least defend our passengers and our own pilots very seriously,” and awaits a resolution.
“We don’t want it to get to midnight where a strike could happen,” he said.
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