Alaska Airlines’ simmering problems with its pilots took another dramatic step this week when the union representing the pilots approved a strike authorization measure, according to mynorthwest.com.
The authorization was approved on Wednesday, May 25, after a two-week voting process.
So far, it is only an authorization – the pilots are not on strike and, in fact, Alaska Airlines stressed that a strike can only take place after discussions with the federal government and the National Mediation Board.
But things have gotten contentious among the pilots, who have been without a contract for three years. Pilots began a series of informational pickets last month at various airports, although the airline has stressed that its ongoing operational issues that have resulted in numerous delays and cancellations is not related to contract talks.
"While it’s true that pilot attrition is higher than pre-pandemic levels, neither attrition nor our pilot labor negotiation are driving our operational challenges,” a spokesperson said in April. “A delay in getting our pilots through training is the primary driver of recent cancellations.”
The Alaska Airlines Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is asking for increased pay but also more flexibility in schedule, among other items on the agenda.
“The strike is fully avoidable,” Alaska Airlines Captain Will McQuillen said last month according to MyNorthwest. “What we’re seeking is in place at every competing airline.”
The two sides will head back to the negotiating table shortly.
This article originally appeared on Travel Pulse