Delta Air Lines and its pilots union are set to jointly file for mediation in labor contract negotiations.
The move comes after Atlanta-based Delta asked the union to join in an application to the National Mediation Board, which governs labor relations at airlines.
The two sides had previously agreed to file for mediation if they had not reached a deal by March 31, and Ryan Schnitzler, the chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association at Delta believed a deal could be reached by then.
But Delta management told the union it believed negotiations had stagnated, according to Schnitzler.
The pilots union is seeking higher pay,, better benefits and more hiring to handle increased traffic. The two sides started talks last April and continued negotiations beyond the term of the current contract, which has not expired but became amendable Dec. 31, 2019.
In a letter Thursday evening, Schnitzler told the pilots that union leadership met this week and decided it’s in the best interests of the pilots to join in mediation.
Mediation “will naturally slow this process down versus direct negotiations,” he said in the letter. But he also called mediation “a tool at our disposal.”
“Perhaps entering into the process two months early will motivate management to meaningfully engage at the table,” Schnitzler wrote.
Delta issued a statement Friday saying: “We believe filing jointly with the NMB is the right path forward to more productively reach an agreement that recognizes our pilots for the contributions they make to Delta every day.”
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