American Airlines’ pilots overwhelmingly vote for potential strikes

American Airlines Airbus 319-132 commercial jet departs from John Wayne International Airport in Santa Ana, California
Philip Pilosian /

American Airlines pilots have voted overwhelmingly for potential strike action following a ballot by the Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 15,000 of the carrier’s pilots. 

Strike authorization voting began on April 1, 2023, and ended at midnight (CT) on April 30, 2023. 

More than 96% of the APA membership participated, with more than 99% voting in favor of authorizing a strike. 

American Airlines’ pilots are looking for a new contract, plus amendments to scheduling and work practices. 

According to CNBC, the airline’s CEO Robert Isom has said the company will match rival Delta Air Lines, whose pilots approved a four-year deal earlier this year with 34% raises and other improvements. 

“The APA membership has spoken. We will strike if necessary to secure the industry-leading contract that our pilots have earned and deserve – a contract that will position American Airlines for success,” said Capt. Ed Sicher, APA president. “With more than 99% of participating pilots voting in favor of authorizing a strike, our pilots’ resolve is unmistakable. We will not be deterred from our goal of an industry-leading contract.” 

On May 1, 2023, APA members conducted informational picketing at all 10 of the airline’s major hubs: Boston (BOS), Charlotte (CLT), Chicago (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (LGA), Philadelphia (PHL), Phoenix (PHX), and Washington, D.C. (DCA). 

“The strike authorization vote is one of several steps APA has taken to prepare for any eventuality and use all legal avenues available to us for contract improvement and resolution,” Capt. Sicher said. “The best outcome is for APA and management to agree on an industry-leading contract – achieved through good-faith bargaining – benefiting our pilots, American Airlines, and the passengers we serve.” 

Pilots would need permission from the federal National Mediation Board to strike.  

“The finish line is in sight,” a spokesperson for American Airlines told the Wall Street Journal. “We understand that a strike authorization vote is one of the important ways pilots express their desire to get a deal done and we respect the message of voting results.” 

Voting has also officially opened in the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association’s (SWAPA) strike authorization vote

This historic vote from the pilot union is taking place in the wake of Southwest’s December meltdown and after three years of negotiations with the company. 

The strike authorization vote opened on May 1, 2023, and will close May 31, 2023.  

While the final vote will not be counted until the end of May, the Association says it is already seeing strong voter turnout and positive response.  

SWAPA President Casey Murray said: “The decision to authorize a strike is not one we have taken lightly but given the lack of accountability and dearth of leadership exhibited by our current executives, we felt that this was a last resort to try to force them to face the issues plaguing our passengers, our frontline employees, and our pilots.” 

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